Wesley Tikiariki Roberts named Cook Islands Sportsman of the Year
Written by Romani Katoa
The Cook Islands Aquatics Federation is a small federation located in the heart of Polynesia between Samoa and French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean with a population of 12,000. We are one of five Pacific Countries that do not have a proper swimming pool (25m or 50m). Most of our training and coaching through our Swimming in Schools programmes is done inside the lagoons of our protected reefs. We have a strong affiliation to the ocean and water with high emphasis on water awareness and safety.
Although we are limited in resources and infrastructure, we manage to punch above our weight with our athletes performing competitively at not only the regional and continental level, but also at the Olympic and World Championship level.
Our small swimming team includes two of our hardworking athletes, Wesley Tikiariki Roberts and Temaruata Strickland. Both continue to improve and make good gains on their times and performance. Wesley was recently crowned Cook Islands Sportsman of the Year 2016 for this achievements at Oceania Swimming Championships in Fiji 2016 with a Gold in the 400m and 1500m beating the Australian, NZ and Hawaii swimmers, a historical first time achievement by one of the smaller swimming island nations.
The team to the FINA World Championships in Budapest included Horst Miehe, Head Coach and Cook Islands Coach of the Year 2016 and Paul Aitu, our Medical Physician, who has been the back bone for Team Cook Islands Olympic, Commonwealth Games, Regional Games.
As we say here in the Cook Islands, Kia orana and Kia manuia – May you live long and prosper!