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Junior athletes achieve their best in NZ

Wednesday 21 December 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Athletics, Sports

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Junior athletes achieve their best in NZ

Young Cook Islands athletes have scored personal bests at national competition level in New Zealand.

The Cook Islands were represented at the 49th New Zealand Secondary Schools Athletics Championships in Inglewood, Taranaki held from December 9 to 11.

Athletics Cook Islands said the team was able to return home with great and positive results.

The team of four included Esther David who entered the senior girls’ shot put and high jump.

She was the team representative from Aitutaki and the only senior athlete.

The three junior athletes were Emma Louisa Papalii (shot put and discus) and Tatjiana Areai, and Zarrian Heather-Rau who both entered the long jump and high jump events.

The team was managed by Marie William, helped by Olivia Heather-Halston and coach Teaea Parima.

William said: “Though conditions were not favourable for all athletes, our team managed to achieve two personal bests both from junior high jumps - Zarrian with a 1.75 metre jump and Tatjiana Areai with a 1.58m jump.

Those performances enabled Zarrian to finish in sixth place overall and Tajiana in fifth place.

“Promising results for the two youngest team members who are both 14-years-old.”

Papalii, 15, though disappointed that she was unable to achieve a new personal best, finished her shot put with a bronze medal after managing a throw of 12.53m. 

After failing to achieve a personal best, David said she is determined to work towards achieving better results in upcoming international events.

“The team would like to say meitaki maata to all the supporters and the people of the Cook Islands for the love and support they received during the competitions and more importantly during the build-up towards going to New Zealand.”

It was the first time Cook Islands youth athletes have attended the annual championships in two years after Covid-19 put the brakes on travel.  

President of Athletics Cook Islands, Simone Fe'ao earlier said the four athletes all performed well at the the BCI National Youth Championships in September and Cook Islands Games in October, and had qualified for the championships. 

“Athletics Cook Island have sent a team to the championships each year for many years now.

“However, due to Covid-19, we have been unable to send a team the last two years.

“We are excited to again have a team representing us at this regional competition.”

In September, more than 20 records were broken at the BCI National Youth Championships on Rarotonga.

Amongst the senior records broken was national sprinter Daniel Tolosa who dominated the senior track events at the National Stadium in Nikao.

Tolosa set a new record for the 16-year-old 100-metre sprint at 11.10 seconds. He also set new records for the senor boys 200m sprint at 23.2 seconds and 400m run at 54.7 seconds.

A new junior boys high jump record was also set by Zarrian Heather-Rau who jumped 1.73 metres – the highest jump recorded on the day by 13 centimetres.

In the girl’s division, Tiara-Anzia Tere set the new 16-year-old 100 metres sprint record after clocking 13.6 seconds. Tere also beat the new record for the 17-year-old girls 100m sprint of 13.9 seconds set by Silia Vainepoto.

Vainepoto also set a new 400m sprint record in the age group after managing to finish the race in 1 minute 08.5 seconds.

In the field events, Emi Akava threw a 3kg shotput 10.99 metres to set a new record in the junior girls. In the intermediate division, Emma Papali'i threw her 3kg shotput 11.89m and discus (1kg) 32.56m to set new records in each event.

A total of 22 new records were set.

The BCI National Youth Championships had over 125 athletes competing including 12 Pa Enua athletes and 40 volunteer officials.

Over 64 events were run on the day.