Team Cook Islands named for Commonwealth Youth Games

Cook Islands will send a team of 16 athletes and five officials to the fifth Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) to be held in Samoa from September 5 to 11.

Team Cook Islands, to be headed by Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) sports manager Siniva Marsters, will be taking part in aquatics (swimming), athletics, lawn bowls and rugby sevens.

Marsters has become the second female after Rosie Blake to lead Team Cook Islands to an international event.

The athletes, aged 14 to 18 years, will be gunning for their personal bests in the week-long games in Apia.

“We haven’t won any medals in the Commonwealth Youth Games so the aim is always to win at least a medal. The athletes will also be targeting their personal best in the games,” Marsters says.

Temaruata Strickland, who made his debut in the World Swimming Championship in Russia this month, will compete in the 50 metres and 100m freestyle and backstroke events.

Cook Islands field athlete Denzelle To’o will compete in the discus and shotput events while Ngametua Arama and Taiki Paniani will take part in the singles and mixed bowling events.

The Cook Islands women’s sevens side will have only one locally-based player, Teiti Tupuna, while the rest of the members are from Australia and New Zealand. Tupuna was in the national touch rugby team which won medals in the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea. Marsters says Strickland’s experience in the world championship will help him do well in the coming games. She says To’o has also gained valuable international exposure after competing in the IAAF World Youth Championship in Columbia in July.

He is training under the watchful eyes of Shaka Sola, a former Pacific, Commonwealth, Olympic and World Games representative for Samoa.

Marsters is also hoping good results from the lawn bowls team.

“The lawn bowls is doing quite well, especially the senior squad, but the juniors are still developing.

“In rugby, we will have only one local based player, Teiti, who is an all-rounder. She will be training with the national senior squad under Vase Samania.”

Marsters says the rugby team will be in Samoa a week before the games, leaving the country on August 28 to acclimatise to conditions there.

The rest of the team will leave on September 2.

“All the athletes have their training programmes and they know what is expected from them. They are preparing well for this games.”

This will be the second biggest Team Cook Islands contingent to the CYG which started in 2000.

Up to 1000 young Commonwealth athletes will represent their country and compete for 107 gold medals in nine sports.

Events include aquatics (swimming), archery, athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rugby sevens, squash, tennis and weightlifting.

Samoa will become the first Pacific island nation to host the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Team Cook Islands

Swimming - Temaruata Strickland (50m, 100m freestyle and backstroke)

Athletics - Denzelle To’o (discus and shotput)

Lawn bowls - Ngametua Arama, Taiki Paniani (singles and mix), Mereana Tera (team manager)

Rugby 7s - Ngatokotoru Arakua, Shannon Muru, Te Aorere Salter, Teiti Tupuna, Dawn Tearoa, Natalie Tearoa,

Tyneeka Tuoro, Samaria Taia, Tangata Tupou, Xian Garnier, Phylis Horn, Nga-Tuakana Utikere, Pandora Partridge-Fruean (team manager), Matthew Atiga (coach), Tanya Browne (physio)

Team Leader - Siniva Marsters (head of delegation)

Team Liaison Officer - Toese Gago (provided by the organising committee).