Roberts, who originally hails from Atiu, won the gold medal in the men’s 1500 metres long course freestyle event with a time of 15 minutes 42.27 seconds at the 11th Oceania Swimming Championship in Suva, Fiji on Monday.
The Australia-based swimmer overcame Michael Petrides of Hawaii and New Zealand’s Troy Balvert, who finished second and third, respectively.
Roberts, who made his debut for the Cook Islands at the championship, also smashed his personal best time of 16.05 minutes. He set new national records in the 400m, 800m and 200m freestyle events at the championship.
Cook Islands Aquatics Federation president Romani Katoa said the team was “over the moon” at this historic achievement.
“For the first time ever in Cook Islands history, our national anthem was played at an international swimming competition.
“This is also a first (gold medal) for any Pacific country competing against New Zealand and Australia who normally dominate the Oceania Championship outside of the Pacific Games.”
Atiu Sports Association president Apii Porio said the association, traditional leaders and the people of Atiu including Roberts’ parents were proud of the swimmer’s historic feat.
“This is the first time someone from Atiu has achieved such a huge feat in the sporting arena. There were tears in the eyes of everyone when we heard about his win in Fiji.
“We are proud of what he has achieved for Atiu and for the Cook Islands. We request CISNOC to consider him for upcoming international competitions.”
Roberts was raised in Atiu before he left for Australia where he has been swimming competitively for the Wests Illawarra Aquatic Swim Club.
“Wesley would like to say hello to his mum and dad in Atiu and a big meitaki maata nui to the executives of Cook Islands Aquatics Federation for believing in him and giving him this opportunity,” Katoa said.
He will be competing in 400m event tomorrow against Australia and New Zealand where he hopes to make Olympic qualifying Standard B times.
Rio Olympics-bound Tracy Keith-Matchitt and Temaruata Strickland are the other swimmers representing Cook Islands in the championship.