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Bronze for Serena

Wednesday July 08, 2015 Written by Published in Paddling
Serena Hunter gracefully receives her 500m sprint paddling bronze medal and gift. Serena Hunter gracefully receives her 500m sprint paddling bronze medal and gift.

A medal in sprints at a Pacific Games is a new achievement for elite female athlete Serena Hunter.

 Hunter, who has an impressive medals and trophies haul from a long successful career in sport including being a dual code athlete for Team Cook Islands at a past Pacific Games, is super proud of the bronze medal she won on Tuesday.

Hunter and male paddler John Raita represented the Cooks in the 500m sprints – both blitzing through their heats to go straight to the finals.

Unfortunately for Raita – inconsistent officiating and race flag confusions meant he had a bad start to his finals race.

Raita and another paddler were still navigating their way to the start buoy when the green race flag was raised.

Despite the challenge Raita paddled valiantly and looked like he would pull in the third placed paddler but in the end it was a very close fourth for the Nikao paddler.

For Hunter, the battle was not just with her own nerves but also the elements with strong winds gusting at times proving to be the toughest challenge of the day.

“The wind and chop made it hard work – on one side you’d be paddling fast then on the other it was a slog fest,” says Hunter.

From the viewing platform the sprint races weren’t pretty as paddlers almost zigzagged their way down the course battling the wind and chop.

During the wait in between the heat and final – Hunter admits there were nerves but the seasoned athlete is all to accustomed to keeping her mental state in check.

To calm her mind, Hunter visualised herself sprinting down her lane and when the time came for the race – she was revving to go.

She says again the race was a gut buster.

“It was so tough I thought I was going to bust my arms,” says Hunter.

In the corner of her eyes she could see her opponents paddling with the same fierce determination as hers and she never knew where in the race she was placed.

Not content to come fourth, Hunter says she threw everything at her race in the last 10 minutes which she laughs must not have been the best look but that was the last thing on her mind.

The first was winning the bronze.

As she crossed the line it was unclear if she won as the emotion and adrenalin ripped through her.

From the viewing platform where she could see her supporters team – fellow paddler Vaea Melvin threw her hands into the air with the thumbs up confirming to Hunter on the water that she had done it – she had won her first ever sprint medal at the games .

“I’m just super happy!” says Hunter.

Hunter is will be using her newest medal to inspire her next two races – the 10km singles on Friday (Thursday CI time) and 20km marathon race on Saturday (Friday CI time).

Tupuna Amo will race the men’s singles 15km race on Friday. 

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