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Pride and podiums: CISNOC applauds athletes for Pacific Games performance

Wednesday 6 December 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Pacific Games 2023, Sports

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Pride and podiums: CISNOC applauds athletes for Pacific Games performance
Cook Islands’ first basketball team to ever reach a final of the Pacific Games basketball tournament. The team has also earned a spot at the 2025 Asia Cup. CISNOC/23120524

Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) lauded Team Cook Islands for their victories and dedication at the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands, which wrapped up Friday.

CISNOC secretary general Owen Lewis in a message to the athletes on the Cook Islands Sports Facebook page said that despite the challenges they faced they managed to secure 18 medals in a difficult playing condition.

Team Cook Islands won five gold, three silver, and 10 bronze medals at this year’s Games. Swimmer Wesley Roberts also set two Pacific Games records at the event.

At the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, Cook Islands won 18 medals, including five gold, five silver, and eight bronze medals.

The target this year was 25 medals.

Lewis said that if it were not for a couple of injuries, some bad luck, and some difficult playing conditions, Team Cook Islands would have achieved its 25 medals target at this year’s Games.

He said six sports achieved podium status, marking a significant milestone in Cook Islands sports journey.

Lewi said Cook Islands finished at 11th place on the medal table for the Pacific region, adding the athletes showcased their resilience and skill.

“We thank all our athletes for their dedication, for representing our country so proudly and for giving us some wonderful memories. To each athlete who contributed to our success, you are the driving force behind our pride and joy.”

Lewis said Roberts’ inspirational medal haul embodies the spirit of the team.

The 26-year-old Atiu native won three gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the Games.

“We see you performing year after year and with such pride and dedication. Congratulations from all of us,” Lewis said.

Fellow swimmer Lanihei Connolly’s achievements at such a young age inspired everyone, Lewis added. Connolly, 17, won a gold and a silver medal.

In athletics, Cook Islands middle distance champion Alex Beddoes was unable to defend his two gold medals due to injuries and illness. Beddoes pulled out of the 800-metre race but competed in the 1500m event where he finished third to claim bronze medal.

“We continue to be so proud of your performances and what you aspire to. You are a perfect role model for all the other athletes that represented us at these Games,” Lewis said.

He said Athletics Cook Islands and its president Simone Fe’ao lobbied very hard for the inclusion of some younger athletes in Honiara.

“I can honestly say that none of you have let her or us down. You have achieved personal bests and performed with credibility. Well done and thank you for the hard work you obviously put in to perform at the level you did.”

Lewis also acknowledged the canoeing team and Andre Tutaka George, whom he said rose to new heights this year.

“What a fabulous Games and a medal haul to show for it. To our V6 women, Joyce and Tara, congratulations on your achievements and that medal.”

And the basketball women’s team, Lewis said, were Cook Islands’ first basketball team to ever reach a final of the Pacific Games Basketball tournament.

“You inspired a nation and are now ranked by FIBA and have earned a spot at the 2025 Asia Cup. Awesome! Despite the disappointment of losing your first game in two years and gaining a silver medal in the final, you were able to pick yourselves and explode to life in 3x3 with the only loss to your Tahitian nemeses.

“Two medals are an incredible achievement.”

And looking at rugby league, Lewis said: “Two teams, two medals and one a bright and shiny gold one! What more can I say – you made us shout, scream and incredibly proud. Despite the obstacles in arriving, you got there, and you made your mark. This achievement was incredible!”

Lewis also thanked the boxers, golfers, weightlifting team, tennis, netball, touch rugby, 7s and football men’s and women’s teams for their commitment and dedication.

He further thanked the beach volleyball team for “the unexpected results. We are now a competitive unit and have a new sport to excel in”.

Lewis also thanked chef de mission Mark Short for his maiden journey and keeping Team Cook Islands safe and performing.

“You were there in times of distress, you were there in times of joy, you were there to encourage and support, and you took a taste of the Cook Islands to the Solomon Islands. Congratulations.”