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Taking Cook Islands to the world

Tuesday 2 August 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Commonwealth Games, Sports

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Taking Cook Islands to the world
Cook Islanders Paul Lynch and wife Shona (middle) with another Cook Islands supporter poses with Commonwealth Games mascot, Perry the Bull, in Birmingham. Photo: SUPPLIED/22080103

Cook Islander Paul Lynch and his wife Shona, who are in Birmingham, United Kingdom to support Team Cook Islands competing at the Commonwealth Games, are in awe at the spectacle created by the Games held every four years.

The couple is looking forward to the weightlifting event on Wednesday where their daughter and Cook Islands’ lone weightlifter Manine Lynch, 23, will compete.

They arrived in Birmingham over the weekend and found the 2022 Commonwealth Games “very welcoming and organised across multiple venues and sports”.

“There is a big fan buzz now across the whole country, with Games fan zones set up in other large cities including the capital and largest city of London. Birmingham is the next largest city and is known as a ‘hard working city’ but has recently opened its heart and welcomed thousands of national and overseas athletes, teams, supporters and fans with huge genuine smiles for these 2022 Commonwealth Games,” Paul told Cook Islands News.

“Sales of CWG merchandise are huge with new apparel and souvenirs flying off the shelves in stores throughout Birmingham city. Most tickets to watch for the different sports are sold out and the city’s streets are full of people and volunteers in bright national colours and supporters gear.

“Our eye-catching national colours always turn heads and start conversations with visitors and local Birmingham people who are called ‘Brums’. With the friendly first question usually ‘Where are the Cook Islands?’.”

The army of friendly Games volunteers are always on hand and helpful to answer questions on where things are and how to get there, shares Paul.

“The hundreds of English people selected as Games volunteers are all different ages, races and colours and are all genuinely happy and interested to meet and assist all the people visiting their country for the Games.

“Many of these volunteer hosts are retired and come from other places around Birmingham.”

The couple booked seat tickets to watch and support the national lawn bowlers early this morning.

“We are very excited to wave our national flag in support in the stands,” Paul said.

“Then on Wednesday, August 3 at 2pm (Birmingham time), we have seat tickets for the Commonwealth Games weightlifting competition to support our sole Cook Islands Weightlifting athlete, our 23-year-old daughter, Manine Lynch from Ngatangiia.

“We were able to meet Manine briefly on Monday afternoon, after one of her final, intense training sessions at the NEC, the National Events Centre, which is also the venue for the weightlifting competition. Her experienced coach, former Olympian, Luisa Peters has kept Manine focused on the huge and exciting task at hand and appreciate the wonderful opportunity and support from everyone back in the Cook Islands and elsewhere too.”