And no, Nelson Tangaroa, Albertto Arakapiti, Tikove Piira and Tuakanamoe Marsters aren’t running in this week’s events – luckily for other competitors!
Instead, they are some of the beneficiaries of funds raised in last year’s Round Raro.
This year in July, 10 young athletes represented the Cook Islands at the Oceania Athletics Championship in Australia, four of whom had earlier attended last year’s New Zealand competition.
Most notably, these four young men claimed the under-20 4x100m relay bronze medal.
Today, the 42nd Round Rarotonga Road Race week of events starts with the Fun Run beginning at the Sinai Hall, Avarua at 5pm.
Many businesses throughout the years have contributed towards the annual event, which draws lots of international participants.
Athletics Cook Islands has a strong youth programme that is the key to the continued success of Athletics here in the Cook Islands.
For a number of years, the funds raised from the Round Rarotonga Road Race go towards allowing our youth athletes to participate at the New Zealand Secondary Schools athletics competition, held every December.
Athletics Cook Islands vice-president Thomas Henderson said attending the competition was crucial for the sport’s ongoing development pathway.
“We have seen especially in the last 12 months that taking our athletes to New Zealand is important for their growth as athletes,” he said. “Getting to experience not just racing against quality athletes, but also the little things like experiencing a call-room, the mental and physical preparation that is required at this level.
“It is a big step for many of our athletes who have never been out of the Cook Islands before, with some never even gone on a plane before.”
As a result of last year’s Round Rarotonga Road Race, ACI was able to send eight athletes to Dunedin for last year’s New Zealand competition, including three athletes from Mangaia.
“It was a challenge for everyone who went last year, but they all came home with a greater understanding of what it takes to perform at a high level.”
Henderson said the wider athletics community were extremely grateful for the support they have received.
“Having the chance to take our athletes to New Zealand is invaluable. I know that not just our athletes but our coaches always get excited knowing that we get to showcase our skills against some of the best talent in New Zealand.”
Recently retired former Olympian Patricia Taea and current high-performance athlete Alex Beddoes both attended the competition in years past.
“It goes to show that with Alex and Patty attending in previous years, that it can get our guys on the path to higher honours.”
After the recent Youth Athletics Championship, the top athletes were selected in a long-list, the final team will be announced after the Nationals held on October 15-16.