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11 November 2022

Tutaka-George claims bronze at Pacific Games

Monday 27 November 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Pacific Games 2023, Paddling, Sports

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Tutaka-George claims bronze at Pacific Games
Andre Tutaka-George won his K1 500 metres heat and progressed to the final, where he finished third, securing a bronze medal. Supplied.

The Cook Islands oe vaka team got their Pacific Games campaign with a good start after claiming bronze medal in the men’s singles event yesterday.

Andre Tutaka-George won his K1 500 metres heat and progressed to the final, where he finished third, securing a bronze medal.

Tutaka-George will take part in the K1 final today.

Joyce Fortes and Tara Cumming participated in the V1 and K1 heats yesterday. The results were not available when this edition went to print last night.

The Cook Islands Oe Vaka team arrived safely in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on Friday and underwent some light paddling to test the local waters ahead of yesterday’s events.

There are nine Oe Vaka athletes (eight women, one man) participating in the games.

The women’s V6 team comprise of Tara Cumming (co-captain), Joyce Fortes (co-captain), Tahiti Isaaka, Leilani Sadaraka, Tevai Samuela, Sheeny Teariki, Lotu Vea, Anna Glassie. Tutaka-George is competing in the men’s K1 and V1 events.

The women’s team coaches are Fletcher Melvin (water) and Joe Horn-Smith (land) and Reuben Dearlove mentored Tutaka-George. The team manager is Alex Herman.

In a statement, the co-captains Cumming and Fortes said: “Majority of the team have known each other for quite some time, through the highs and the lows, we’ve crushed and tackled a-lot of hard yards throughout our journey creating unique moments and experiences on and off the water. There’s no doubt about this team!”

“We are focused, we are determined and we are stronger than we’ve ever been. Along with our brother Andrey Tutaka George, we are sisters and proud to be Tane/Vahine Toa’s of the Cook Islands representing our country our code paddling at its best. We honour and thank all our families friends for all their ongoing efforts and support. To all our coaches and the pioneers of Oe Vaka, Thank you!

“If God be for us, who can be against us”

Tutaka-George thanked coach Dearlove for the on the water pushes in training to get him to the level he is in today and Horn-Smith for the cardio “chu chu trains and yoyo”.

“Thank you to work for giving me the time to make trainings and trips away for competition. Thank you to my training buddies for playing cat and mouse on the water, at the tracks and up the hill. Thank you to my nena and uncle for getting dinner ready, washing my pile of sweaty and salt water covered clothes. thank you Onu for the uniforms. Thank you to the Cook Islands Canoeing family for the support and families and friends.”

Coach Fletcher Melvin said: “I am fortunate that the majority of the ladies who joined the squad had either paddled in an international event or national event such as the Vaka Eiva. So, my main job was to create stronger combinations for the three different race distances and get the most out of them.”

“I believe we have done enough work to give them the ability to get a top finish. I am proud of the progress they have made and how much they accomplished to get themselves to the games. I know they will do their very best and do us proud.”

Trainer Horn-Smith said the ladies have been through the process together and have all worked hard and sacrificed much to get to the games.

“We could not have trained harder or done more than what we have, so I am sure this group will put their best performance on at the games and come home with something to make themselves and their families proud.”

The Oe Vaka team would like to express their sincere appreciation and thanks to everyone that supported them during their preparations.

“We look forward to representing our country at the Pacific Games.”

Oe Vaka Race schedule (Cook Islands time): Monday 27 November: V6 sprints, Tuesday 28 November: K1 marathon, Wednesday 29 November: V1 marathon, Thursday 30 November: V6 Women’s marathon.