The youth athletics event is the first series of a number of competitions the association have planned to roll out through the year to give local athletes more exposure on the track and field.
ACI secretary Ruth Tangiiau Mave says setting more competitions for local athletes will help lift the standards to the same as their peers in New Zealand.
“Last year, former Olympic sprinter and current president of ACI Erin Tierney-Quirke saw the need for a strong and reliable competition for our youth,” says Mave.
“Post the Prince of Wales Primary School competition and their local school sports, youth had nowhere to compete against others their own age, in an event that Athletics Cook Islands Selectors would recognise their times and achievements as viable results for consideration for International competitions,” she adds.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship from Air Rarotonga, last year’s Youth Athletics Competition saw athletes from the Pa Enua of Mauke, Mitiaro, Mangaia, Atiu, Aitutaki, joined their Rarotonga peers from Tereora, Nukutere, Titikaveka, Papaaroa and Emanuela Akatemia.
Several athletes from this competition were selected for the Polynesian Games in Tahiti, New Zealand Secondary Schools competition in December 2018 and this year’s Oceania Games in Townsville, the Pacific Games in Samoa recently and now one athlete will be travelling to the World Games in Doha next month.
Mave says the selection criteria for athletes to make it into a travelling squad is rigorous and takes into account meeting overseas qualifying standards, proof of regular and sustained training with a coach, demonstration of good sportsmanship attitude and behaviour.
“In return once selected the athletes have at their disposal qualified and committed coaches who are constantly on the track pushing athletes to reach their potential.”
The rewards of last year’s YAC and the selected squad has shown in medals achieved in Tahiti, Oceania plus encouraging personal best times that officials and coaches from Oceania showing excited to see where Cook Islands youth athletes will go from here.
“Our youth athletes stood out as the highlight of Oceania competitions with the vast improvement seen in their preparation, coaches, professionalism and performance.”
Mave says this all started with the Youth Athletic Champs and this year promises to showcase more talented athletes from the Pa Enua and Rarotonga to perform well in front of the Athletics Cook Islands selectors.
This event is only made possible by the generous sponsorships of Air Raro, Bluesky, BCI, Prime Foods, Mareko, Vonnias, Koka Lagoon Cruises, KitesUP and the many volunteers who help officiate on the day, as well as the hard working coaches and teachers.
· If anyone would like to be involved please contact ACI Secretary ph 51418 or be at the BCI Stadium on Friday 6 September from 8.30am to see exciting youth athletics on display.