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‘Pride and sporting excellence’: Cook Islands Games end with colourful closing ceremony

Monday 17 October 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Sports

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‘Pride and sporting excellence’: Cook Islands Games end with colourful closing ceremony
Team Mangaia are the 2022 Champions of the 2022 Cook Islands Games. 22101621

In a blaze of glory, a stunning fireworks display closed the 2022 Cook Islands Games at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Shelving aside sporting rivalry, the wonderful spirit of the Cook Islands Games shone through in the camaraderie, unity and pride beaming from the participants of the 10 islands who paraded together in arms for the closing ceremony.

Over 800 medals were awarded to the successful young and older athletes from the 3200 who registered and competed across 25 sports codes.

National records were broken in a multitude of different sports codes showing the high standards of sports and the dedication from the athletes.

Representatives from New Zealand and overseas based athletes also returned to Rarotonga to represent their islands.

“The Games is about pride, activity, sporting excellence and the Cook Islands Games of 2022 has delivered,” said Prime Minister Mark Brown.

The first Games took place in 2020 in the middle of the Covid pandemic.

“It brought our country together at a time we needed it most,” said Brown.

“So today, we have showed that even though our country is back in full swing, back in full flow we can still produce a Games that unites and gives us something to celebrate.

“This is the power of sport and it shows our Cook Islands spirit, we love our heritage, we love our islands and we love our country. You all did very well.”

Brown acknowledged the employers, the private and public sectors, who allowed the participants to be able to take part in their sport over the two weeks.

“We have seen the island pride in these Games and islands have adopted the new PRs (Permanent Residents) and the expatriate community to join their home islands,” said Brown.

Sports has health benefits and can be a vehicle to address a number of social issues like NCDs (non communicable diseases) and obesity, Brown noted.

The Games is a joint initiative by three parties – the National Sports Federations, Island Sports Associations and the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC).

Owen Lewis, the secretary general of CISNOC, addressed the ceremony on behalf of president Hugh Graham who is representing the country overseas at an international forum.

Lewis praised the efforts of the athletes, island teams administrators, CISNOC staff, Tauranga Vananga/Ministry of Culture Development, Red Cross, supporters and everyone involved in the Games.

The 100 dancers of the Aka’uka cultural exercise dance group who embrace women of all shapes and sizes wowed the audience with their routine, with some of the Island teams joining in on the entertainment.

The islands of: Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Mauke, Mitiaro, Palmerston, Pukapuka/Nassau, Rakahanga and Rarotonga participated in the 2022 Games. Penrhyn Island did not field a team.

The next Cook Islands Games will be held in 2024.