Elijah Poila, Pareina Vaevaemaki, Jordayn Matutu and Christian Tangimataiti alongside team manager Thomas Henderson (far left) before departing for the Oceania Athletics Championships. 18112011
The next generation of Cook Islands athletes are in their final preparations for this week’s Oceania Athletics Championship.
The team departed for Tahiti on Saturday afternoon ahead of the competition, which starts on Friday afternoon (CI time).
Elijah Poila, Christian Tangimataiti, Pareina Vaevaemaki and Jordayn Matutu make up one of the youngest teams to represent the Cook Islands on the international stage in athletics.
Olympians Patricia Taea and Alex Beddoes were both unavailable for selection.
Track and field club coach Thomas Henderson is attending with the athletes and said it was great to see the outer islands well represented.
“With three of our team coming from Mangaia, it goes to show that there is a huge amount of potential in the Outer Islands and they will no doubt represent their island with pride, as well as the rest of the Cook Islands.
“The aim of this competition is to give these younger athletes a taste of a big international event and help further their development.
“A big reason we were able to select these five is the success of the Youth Athletics Championship held this year, which created a window for us to be able to identify potential athletes as well as those who have been coached throughout the year to test themselves.”
Tereora College students Jordayn Matutu is the only athlete based in Rarotonga, and is also the only one who is taking part in track events, the 100 and 200m, while the contingent from Mangaia will take on the field events: javelin, discus and shot put.
Henderson said it would be a memorable experience for the athletes on the first day of competition on Friday.
“No doubt there will be a lot of nerves this week before things get underway, but it will also be a really special moment for these guys to get to wear the Cook Islands singlet and represent our country and it is something we want them to savor and enjoy, as they have earnt it.”