Eight members from the youth development squad alongside high-performance athletes, Alex Beddoes and Tereapii Tapoki travelled to Townsville for the bi-annual championships.
Athletics Cook Islands president Erin Quirke said the youth athletes exceeded their expectations, for many it was their first experience at a big meet.
“It was the goal of our athletes to come home with ‘personal bests’ and an improvement in technical and competition skills. The under-20 and U18 athletes achieved personal bests across most track events even in gusty conditions. Kaia Dearlove secured fourth place in the U18 High Jump and Estelle Short progressed to U18 200m finals. These results are promising and the athletes are keen to get back to training for the next lot of competitions”.
Beddoes was pleased with his fourth place in the 800m in a time of 1.51.64 minutes.
“I think I performed really well and even surprised a few people. Those guys I was running with in the top five are the best from Australia and New Zealand. They are world-class athletes, so the fact that I was right there with them I think is a really good indicator that I can be competitive at a high level.”
While assuming a mentor role in Townsville, Beddoes noted it was a change from his previous competitions.
“Being one of the senior athletes felt pretty strange because for the most part I have always been one of the juniors in the team, but now as a senior it is great to be surrounded by the enthusiasm the young ones bring.
“I was immensely proud of how they performed and I just want to impart as much knowledge I can to them because they are the next generation of athletes who will push the sport forward.”
In addition to the competition, the team attended athlete and coach seminars.
Quirke was joined by fellow coaches Thomas Henderson and Harmon who have collectively spent many months preparing the athletes for competition.
“There was a great team vibe with senior athletes passing along words of wisdom and encouragement throughout the event.”
One of the highlights of the trip came however, on the final day of competition with the U20 4x100m relay team of Moe Marsters, Nelson Tangaroa, Albertto Arokapiti and Tikove Piira claiming a bronze medal in a sharp time, just half a second off the open national record.
The squad will now move into preparation for the National Youth Championships in August and New Zealand Secondary Schools to be held in Wellington at the start of December.
Meanwhile Beddoes, Tereapii Tapoki and Tikove Piira are back in action at the Pacific Games starting July 15. The Rarotonga-based athletes are leaving the country this morning.
- Athletics Cook Islands