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Young Cooks athletes set to take on Kiwis at national champs

Wednesday 7 December 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Athletics, Sports

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Young Cooks athletes set to take on Kiwis at national champs
President of Athletics Cook Islands, Simone Fe'ao, from left, field coach Teaea Parima, athletes Zarrian Heather-Rau, Tatjiana Areai, Esther David, Emma Papali’i, manager Marie William and track coach Michael Tolosa at Rarotonga International Aiport on Tuesday. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS 22120610

Young Cook Islands athletes have the first opportunity in two years to stretch their legs at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Track, Field And Road Race Championships.

A team of four, supported by two coaches departed Rarotonga for New Zealand on Tuesday.

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.  

They are set to compete in a number of disciplines over three days between Friday and Sunday at Inglewood near New Plymouth. 

President of Athletics Cook Islands, Simone Fe'ao 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 campionships 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.”

Athletes Zarrian Heather-Rau, Tatjiana Areai, Esther David and Emma Papali’i, said they were looking forward to the completion.

Fe'ao said the New Zealand championships were a good benchmark for the Cook Islands athletes, helping them achieve higher standards.

“We have a selection process, each of these athletes are competing with athletes who are older than them.”

Field coach Teaea Parima said the team was feeling confident ahead of competition.

“This is a good opportunity for them to get competition, we are well organised.”

He said there were other athletes who could have attended but it was down to finance and funding.

“This is all we can afford at the moment.

“I am very proud of this team, they are all achievers.”

In September, more than 20 records were broken at the BCI National Youth Championshipson 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.