The local side returned home last week with 12 medals – three silver and nine bronze medals – from the under-14 grade competitions.
Aitutaki-based Ashlee-Kate Armstrong managed the silver medals in women’s K1 100/200/500 metres events.
Jade Tierney won the bronze medal in the WK1 U14 200m before combining with Genesis Ngatikao to claim the other bronze medals in the WK2 U14 200/500m and WK4 U14 200/500m.
The national team also comprised Otea Tommy, Keelyn Higgins and Teava Maoate.
“I believe the team’s success is due to a good plan and training programme, committed athletes, hard and effective training and great support (family/coaching/within the sport/community),” Rarotonga-based coach Roly Rolleston said.
“As the coach I'm very proud of the team’s efforts. This programme is not for everyone and eventually only the strong remain involved, which is a reflection of the results achieved.
“Although we are stoked with this results, it’s all about consistency. We want similar results in the upcoming events.”
The team’s next event is the Asia-Pacific Cup in May in Adelaide where the national side will be competing against the top junior paddlers from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Tahiti. “Building on these recent results is the primary aim for our team from the next event,” Rolleston said.
Rolleston also thanked supporters for their help in completing stage one of their canoe and kayak training facility.
“I’d like to acknowledge the government of India’s support which allowed us to complete stage one of our facility, key to the team’s recent success,” he said.
“This support also allows us to develop tertiary study pathways for our athletes for careers beyond sport.”
Rolleston also thanked Oceania Canoeing Association, North Coast Foods (Allan and Jenny Rasmussen), Air Rarotonga, BSP, Prime Foods, Maritime Cook Islands, Goldmine, CIS Paddling community and the Kent Hall Community Gym for their support towards the facility and the recent competition.
He thanked fellow coaches Mena Tautu (Aitutaki), Naomi Flood (Australia-based technical coach) and trainer Mel Becejski.
“Lisa Carrington (world champion) presented our K2 girls their medals and with a great sporting gesture told the girls their technical coach Naomi sent her an Instagram message to say ‘hello and well done. Naomi and Lisa, both are Olympians and friends,” Rolleston said.
Meanwhile an open day will be held on Saturday next week from 2.30pm to 4.30pm at the Nikao lagoon to promote the sport. For more details, check the Kuki Airani Canoeing and Kayak Facebook page.
- Rashneel Kumar