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Team Cook Islands’ medal hopes dashed as top runner pulls out due to illness

Tuesday 28 November 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Athletics, Pacific Games 2023, Sports

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Team Cook Islands’ medal hopes dashed as top runner pulls out due to illness
Cook Islands’ top middle-distance runner Alex Beddoes, left, discussing strategies with Pacific Games debutant Rupeni Mataitoga in Honiara, Solomon Islands, over the weekend. Beddoes had to withdraw from the 800 metres race on Sunday after falling sick. ACI/23112720

Team Cook Islands’ chances of winning their first medals in athletics were dashed after the country’s top middle-distance runner pulled out of the 800-metre race due to illness on Sunday at the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Losirene Lacanivalu reports from Honiara.

Alex Beddoes, who won the 800m gold medal at the last Pacific Games in Samoa, had to withdraw from the event after falling sick.

However, Team Cook Islands is hoping he will recover in time to defend his 1500m gold medal on Wednesday (Cook Islands time).

Team Cook Islands chef de mission Mark Short told Cook Islands News that at a medical meeting on Saturday night, they were informed that Beddoes was not feeling well and had been put in isolation for observation and recovery.

“I was told this morning (yesterday) that he is recovering fine.”

Athletics Cook Islands president Simone Fe’ao confirmed Beddoes unfortunately had to withdraw from the 800m race based on advice from the doctor.

Fe’ao said it was not what they were hoping for but expects he would be ready to run in the 1500m event on Wednesday.

Beddoes made his debut at the 2013 Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna. In 2017, he won a gold medal for the 800 metres at the Pacific Mini Games in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and gold medals in the 800m and 1500m at the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.

He was targeting three gold medals at this year’s Pacific Games.

Despite the setback, Fe’ao said day one (Sunday) was eventful for the athletics team.

Max Teuruaa was halfway through the decathlon and was sitting in fourth place. He will participate in the remaining five events today.

Sprinter Daniel Tolosa achieved a personal best in the 100 metres heats, clocking 11.10 seconds, and made it into the semifinals. However, he unfortunately did not make the final, which was held last night.

In shot put, Ana Ellison Lupena threw a personal best of 10.97 metres.

Fe’ao said: “This is a new event for her that she is developing. Her main event is the discus (today).”

In javelin, Karika Willynn threw 48.7 metres.

Fe’ao said: “Not quite what he was hoping for as he was hoping to break the 50m mark but still a credible result for him.”

She said Rupeni Mataitoga ran a “convincing” 800m with a new personal best of 1.59.59 minutes, narrowly missing out on a spot in the finals by 0.09 of a second.

“Day one was huge for our five athletes in 10 events – two of them competing for the first time internationally.”