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Cook Islands swimmers lead the charge in 2024 Sports Awards

Thursday 16 May 2024 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Sports, Swimming

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Cook Islands swimmers lead the charge in 2024 Sports Awards
After the Mixed 4x100m Medley race, Wesley Roberts (left) and Lanihei Connolly at the 2024 World Aquatics Championship in Doha in February, 2024. SUPPLIED/24021401

Swimmers Wesley Roberts and Lanihei Connolly are leading the charge in the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee’s 2024 Sports Awards.

The annual awards will be held at The Edgewater Resort and Spa on Sunday, May 19.

Fourteen categories, ranging from junior sportsperson to Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, will be awarded.

Cook Islands News has contacted the newly appointed CISNOC secretary general Keziah Lewis for comments on the nominees and the selection criteria for the upcoming awards

It’s a four-way race in the Sportsman of the Year with paddler Andre Tutaka-George, middle distance runner Alex Beddoes, sprinter Daniel Tolosa and swimmer Wesley Roberts battling for the top honours.

In the Sportswoman of the Year, young swimmer Lanihei Connolly is up against Eliana Tuaiti and Ngatokotoru Arakua.

The two swimmers had a superb Pacific Games 2023 outing, winning seven medals – 4 gold, 2 silver, and a bronze – in between them.

The Atiu-born, Australian-based swimmer Roberts won the first gold medal for Team Cook Islands in the men’s 400-metre freestyle.

Roberts also became the first Cook Islander to set a Pacific Games record – two records at the Solomon Islands Games. The 26-year-old secured his and the country’s first gold medal with a time of 3 minutes 58.41 seconds in a closely contested and intense final in the 400m freestyle.

Roberts added a bronze medal to his tally in the men’s 200-metre individual medley, clocking in at 2:09.81 minutes. He then shattered the 100-metre freestyle record for men, which had stood since 2015. He clocked a blistering 50.05 seconds in the final, showcasing his exceptional speed and skill.

On the same night he competed in the 50m men’s butterfly final where he managed silver medal after finishing the race in 24.86 seconds.

In his final race, Roberts secured another gold medal – his second at the Games – in the 200-metre freestyle and set another record of 1.49.78 minutes, surpassing the 2007 record of 1.50.27 mins set by Pacific Games legend Ryan Pini.

Connolly also made her mark at the Pacific Games. She claimed two medals, a gold and a silver, in her debut appearances. She won gold in the 50-metre breaststroke for women and silver in the 100-metre breaststroke.

Nominations

Best Administered Outer Island Association: Aitutaki Sports Association

Best Outer Island Achievement Award – Aitutaki Athletics, Aitutaki Volleyball, Nelio George, and Aitutaki Sports Association.

Coach of the Year – Clive Nicholas, Rusty Matua, Danny    Simpson, Fletcher Melvin, Aik Ho and Horst Miehe.

Junior Sportsman of the Year – Thomas Makimare, Nelio    George, and Emmanuela Mataio.

Junior Sportswoman of the Year – Edon Teraitua, Aleida Tere, Lanihei        Connolly, Ana Ellison-Lupena, Mahana Sijp, and Emma Papali'i.

Pa Enua Sportswoman – Tatiana Sherwin, Teuanuku Koroa, Nelio George and Thomas Makimare.

Masters Sportsperson – Serena Hunter.

Sports Achievement of the Year – CIRL Aitu, CIRL Moana, Cook Islands Open Mixed Team Badminton, Women’s Basketball Team Pacific games 2023, Andre Tutaka-George, Wesley Roberts, Women’s Oe vaka Team   Pacific Games 2023, Athletics Cook Islands, Daniel Tolosa, Cook Islands men’s beach volleyball team.

Sports Administrator of the Year – Natalia Short, Wallace     Ariota, Marie Williams, Jean Akavi, Kaitini Herman, Brianna Lewis and Lesley and Kieran Chan.

Sports Fair Play Award – CIRL          Aitu, CIRL Moana, Men’s 3X3 Team SPG, Cook Islands Badminton            U19 team, and Jackie Rongo.

Sports Team of the Year – CIRL Aitu, CIRL  Moana, J16 Girls Canoeing CICA,

Woman's Basketball 3X3        , Women’s Basketball Team 5X5 Pacific Games 2023, Cook Islands Badminton            open mixed team, Cook Islands Badminton U19 badminton team, Cook Islands Badminton U15 Badminton team, Women’s Oe vaka Team Pacific Games 23.

Sports Technical Official – Lualua Tua Trood, Patty Taea and Tiramakea Miri Masters.

Sportsman of the Year – Andre Tutaka-George, Alex Beddoes, Daniel         Tolosa and Wesley Roberts.

Sportswoman of the Year – Lanihei Connolly, Eliana Tuaiti and Ngatokotoru Arakua.

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