Being A Sports Ambassador Makes Polly Proud
Being able to represent the country overseas has been a privilege and honour that Apolonia Vaivai always looks forward to.
The 26 year-old Taveuni, Cakaudrove native is the newest member of the Sports Training and Outreach Programme (STOP) that uses athletes to advocate on Non-Communicable Diseases, HIV and AIDS.
Apolonia or Polly as she is known to her friends said STOP was her way of giving back to the country that she loves to represent.
“Being an ambassador for my country through weightlifting has been amazing, in a year we travel so many times over seas and each time it is tiring but always exciting,” she said.
“Our coach would always remind us on our behavior and what it means to be proper ambassadors for our country no matter which country we are in.”
Polly said being a part of STOP would allow her to be a different kind of ambassador.
“I left school while I was still in form 5 and was exposed to some very unhealthy lifestyles,” she said.
“Smoking and drinking were just some of the things I would do before I took up weightlifting.”
She said the sport literally pulled her up and made her a more determined and focused athlete.
Despite some hiccups along the way, Polly always had a determination to make it to the top in her chosen sport.
“Being determined and focused is something my weightlifting family has taught me to be and now I know I can be a good role model for younger athletes coming up because I went through all they are going through now,” Polly said.
“There will always be a certain point in every athlete’s life where they will hit low points and high points.
“I think it is our duty as STOP Champions to advocate and make sure that these athletes have all the right tools to make better decisions in life.”
Polly competed in the women's 75 kg event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where she won a bronze medal.
In 2016, she won gold at the Oceania Weightlifting Championships in the 69 kg event which allowed her a ticket to the world’s greatest sporting stage the Olympics.