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Saturday 10 September 2011 | Published in Regional


Team Cook Islands always punches above its weight at events such as the Pacific Games and the Noumea games have been no different, according to team chef de mission George George.

If I have to compare us to the bigger boys of the South Pacific like New Caledonia, Tahiti, Fiji and the powerhouses like Samoa and Tonga I see us as being right up there, says George.

When these powerful countries dont win medals more often than not we are right there to take it.

Of course George says he believes that Team Cook Islands can be more of a medal contender and that comes from hard work by athletes, coaches and sports body CISNOC.

Ive been to most of our games here and you know we could have won more medals but we just miss out but I am so proud that our athletes stood up in the first place and fought with heads held high we never put our gloves down, we never gave up.

Of the two weeks of sporting action two moments stand out as the highlight of the games for George.

His first highlight was when oe vaka won the teams first medal.

That for me is number one. Many of our paddlers were struck off by critics back home who called them a B grade team but they carried those critics and the entire nation on their shoulders and won them all a medal the first at the games.

George says there is no reason the paddlers shouldnt hold their heads high when they return home especially in front of the critics.

Most of those paddlers were young and so they were called a development squad and that to me is wonderful because in a few years time those kids will be gold medallists.

The second highlight of the games for the chef de mission was of course the double gold and double silver hauled in by the fantastic Cook Islands sailors Helema Williams, Teau McKenzie, Taua Elisa and the ever positive Junior Charlie.

That was a day that all of us stood tall together and belted out our national anthem twice we were up there among the greats!

Like I always say when the flag goes up the war starts.

In terms of the Pacific Games in general George describes it as a games with a difference.

Just like any games weve experienced difficulties but the problems have been mainly the little things where common sense should have prevailed.

The other issue that was a constant part of the games from day one right up to the closing ceremony has been the mixed messages teams receive and the lack of information about what is actually going on.

But George is pleased that Team Cook Islands had some great managers that rolled with the punches and rose above the issues to make sure their athletes were well taken care of.

George is pleased about the networking that has been done to encourage more competition among the Pacific Islands as the common excuse teams give for not being up to par is lack of regional and international competitions.

George also believes that CISNOC needs to toughen up its selection criteria for future teams and these discussions will begin as soon at the team returns home. The Olympic Games is the next event on the cards for Team Cook Islands.

Meanwhile the team would like to invite all sponsors, family and friends of Team Cook Islands to a welcome home function at the Rarotonga Golf Club on Friday September 16 to join the athletes in celebrating its 2 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze medals.