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Atiu rocket Roberts soars to Pacific Games record and another gold

Friday 24 November 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Pacific Games 2023, Sports, Swimming

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Atiu rocket Roberts soars to Pacific Games record and another gold
Cook Islands golden swimmer Wesley Roberts with his medals – a gold and a silver – after breaking the Pacific Games record in Honiara, Solomon Islands. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU /23112408

Cook Islands golden swimmer Wesley Roberts has shattered the Pacific Games 100-metre freestyle record for men, which was set in 2015.

Roberts, who clocked a blistering 50.05 seconds in the final at the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on Wednesday night, bested the previous record of 50.44 seconds held by French Polynesia’s Stephane Debaere.

Roberts claimed gold in the event, with New Caledonia’s John-William Dabin and Ethan Dumesnil securing silver and bronze, respectively.

This was the Atiu native’s second gold medal after he won the 400m freestyle on Sunday night.

The 26-year-old claimed silver medal in the men’s 50-metre butterfly, clocking in at 24.86 seconds and bronze medal in the 200m individual medley.

Last night, Roberts won another gold medal for the 200m freestyle men's event and sets another new record clocking 1.49.78sec beating the 2007 record of 1.50.27 that was set by Ryan Pini.

An overwhelmed Roberts attributed his success to a well-structured plan devised in collaboration with his coach.

“I saw the record, and one of the guys said I owed him $10 if I broke it, so that was a bit of extra motivation,” Roberts revealed.

“But again, everyone showed up tonight, and it kind of makes it more special. You want to get the job done. Coach and I put a plan together, and it paid off. Then, for the 50m Fly, I just gave it whatever I had left, and it happened to work out to get on the second place.”

Humbled by his achievements, Roberts confessed that he had harboured aspirations of breaking the 2015 record.

“My PB (personal best) was already under the record, but I managed to do it on the night,” he said. “I was able to have the best time and that was the best time I’ve ever swam for the 100m freestyle so that’s also really special and exciting.

“I’m just glad I could get it, get it done for the Cook Islands.”

Demonstrating his remarkable resilience, Roberts jumped back into the pool just minutes after receiving his gold medal and secured another podium finish.

“I think I had enough time to kind of clear out any fatigue,” he explained. “It was just about maintaining composure, staying switched on, and being ready to go as soon as I was back behind those blocks.”

Roberts expressed his gratitude for the unwavering support he has received from Team Cook Islands, who have cheered him and his colleague Lanihei Connolly on throughout the competition.

“The support has been amazing,” he acknowledged. “Everyone’s been so awesome. All the social media messages and videos that people have been sending me – it’s been incredible.”

  • Losirene Lacanivalu in Honiara, Solomon Islands