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LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS

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Flying the flag for the Cook Islands: The Results
WITH THE WORLD WATCHING...
Women's laser radial sailing competitor, Helema Williams led Team Cook Islands into London's Olympic stadium at the official opening ceremony.  She's was one of 8 athletes representing the nation.   Three of the competitors had to wait until the last minute to find out they had gained 'wildcard' placings from the International Olympic Committee.  Team Cook Islands was 18 strong in total, with 10 officials accompanying the athletes.   The  Islands first competed in the Games in 1988, and this was the biggest team the country had sent to date.  There were no medals..but none was expected.  But there were new records and memories to last a lifetime.



20 year old Helema from Manihiki was another wildcard entrant.  She began sailing Optis nine years ago, under the guidance of Arthur Neale who's the resident coach for Manihiki Sailing Club.  But with her home island surrounded by a massive lagoon, she was no stranger to the water and has been sailing in all weathers on the lagoon since she was a child.   She won the local island and then the Cook Islands national championships.  At the start of the Games she was 109th in the world...a remarkable 203 places higher than her 2011 ranking.  And she's already looking forward to the 2016 Games in Rio.


24 year old Joshua Utanga was the third wildcard entrant and a relative newcomer to his event.  He succesfully transferred from surf ski paddling to the Olympic discipline of canoe sprint in 2009.  He was selected by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) to represent Oceania at a development camp and went on to break the four minute barrier over 1,000 metres in the ICF canoe sprint world championships in Canada....the fastest time of anyone on the development programme.His biggest supporters are his father and mother, Nga and Sandra, who have funded his career.


Ready to take on the world
21 year old medical student, Ella Nicholas was born and lives in New Zealand, but represents the islands as her father is from Rarotonga.  Many of her family live on the capital island or Aitutaki which is still home to her grandmother.  Her older brother - a competiton canoeist himself -  introduced her to the white   You can find out more about Ella at her own website

YOUNGSTER MAKES A SPLASH

17 year old Celeste Brown was the Islands' youngest competitor.  But she's already a vetran of her sport.  She's now in  her fourth year representing the Islands in international competitions.   And as well as  a punishing training schedule, this proud Islander has been studying at college and working as a swimming teacher.   And she had her cousin, rower, Ella Nicholas for company in London.

She finished next to last in her heat of the women's event, recording a time of 29.59 seconds. The competitors needed to be in the top 16 of their event to go through to the semi finals.

 





Celeste Brown
A SPEEDY EXIT

At only 18, New Zealand-based Zac Payne is a double record breaker for the Islands.  He completed the 50 metres freestyle at the 2012 Oceania Championships in Noumea, New Caledonia at the beginning of June,2012 in a time of 25.5 seconds.  And although that wasn't an Olympic qualifying or selection time, he got one of the final 150 swimming places at the Games in accordance wtih a best performances points table   His 56.95 seconds time in the 100 metres freestyle race in Noumea was also a new Cook Islands record.

At the Games, he finished last in his heat and was placed joint 41st overall in a field of 58.  He covered 50 metres in 25.26 seconds.   But that was only 3.49 seconds behind the fastest in the heats. 



FOR PICTURES OF TEAM COOK ISLANDS AT THE OPENING AND CLOSING CEREMONIES. CLICK HERE
WEIGHTLIFTING   Luisa Peters, Women's +75kg
Luisa Peters attempts 105 kgs in the clean and jerk
So nealry there
Disappointment
Clean and Jerk:  So nearly...and the disappointment is written all over her face
Luisa was placed 12th out of 14 overall but it was an afternoon on the world stage which she and the crowd clearly enjoyed... and one which will have made Islanders very proud.



Luisa Peters on the way to a succssful 3rd snatch lift
She's done it...82kgs
The Cook Islands smile says it all
DOUBLE RECORD BREAKER

18 year old Luisa Peters was one of the wildcard entrants, but she set two new Cook Islands records at the Excel Centre in London, with lifts of 82 kg in the snatch and 100kg in the clean and jerk, each also a new personal best.  All three of her attempts in the snatch were successful, at 74, 78 and then the 82kgs.  She received a huge cheer from the crowds for her efforts and rewarded their support with a huge Cook Islands' smile




In the clean and jerk soon after, she lifted 95 and 100kgs successfully, and for a tense moment it looked like she was also going to manage 105kgs - 7kgs more than her previous best.  She appeared to complete the "clean" part of the lift easily (where the athlete has to raise the weight to a racked position across the deltoids and clavicles), but she couldn't quite manage the jerk to raise the bar over her head and hold it there.  


"Unfortunately I didn't preform as good as I was hoping to but from this experience I have a feeling we definitely going to kick ass in Rio!!  From the bottom of my heart MEITAKI KOREREKA TO EACH ONE OF YOU!!"
Her placings in races 1 to 10 were:  41, 40 39 40, 40, 28, 39, 39, 34, 40.   Only the 10 best competitors make it through to the medals race.   And as she prepares to return home, Helema has sent a thank you message on Facebook to everyone who's supported her.
Left: Helema in action (the boat with the national identifier COK on the sail)


"What a day!  Everyone was prepared for the 20+ knots of wind (survival mode) but our prayers has been answered and only had max of 14 knots.  Last race was good today..was coming top 20 but tricky wind finished 28th out of 41..my best result so far!"
Helema Williams at the London Olympics sailing venue
She faced a challenge of 10 races over five days to try to get into medals contention.  But despite some gritty determination in the later races, she didn't make it and she finished bottom of the table of 41 contenders.   Her best position was 28th in the sixth round.   And clearly delighted with that performance, she wrote on her Facebook page:




SAILING   Helema Williams, Women's Laser Radial
Helema Williams competing in the London 2012 sailing
Josh Utanga
DOUBLE DISAPPOINTMENT
Josh failed to make it through to the semi finals in both of his events...the men's kayak single (K1) 1000 metres and the 200m (K1) sprint.   He finished in last place on each outing and was eliminated.  In the 1000m heat, he appeared sluggish and recorded a time of 4 minutes 32.064 seconds which was almost a minute behind the next to the last competitor; in the 200m, his time was 38.966 seconds.  

THE HAPPY PADDLER
At the Games, she was placed 18th out of 21 after two races at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, with a score of 118.29 - 19.54 points behind the leader.  But only the top 15 go through to the semi final.  

She was in with a chance on her first run with a score of 118.69 which put her into 15th place but her second run, although bettering this with a score of 118.29, wasn't enough to give her the overall ranking she needed. But she was pleased with her efforts, and rightly so...







Cook Islands Ella Nicholas at London 2012
CANOEING   Ella Nicholas, Women's Kayak (K1)
Josh Utanga, Men's kayak single (K1) 1000m and 200m sprint


Writing on her Facebook page she said:  "Although I didn't make it through I was really happy with how I paddled and had 1 small mistake which cost me a lot. Thanks for the continued support."
A STRONG SHOWING
Patrick Tuara, meanwhile, finished last in his preliminary race, but it was a strong showing on his part.  He was just point 1 of a second outside his personal best time, crossing the finishing line in London in 11.72 seconds.   Patrick is fifth from the left in this shot taken live during the race.
Patrick Tuara puts his all into the 100m prelimary race
A SEASONAL BEST...BUT NOT QUITE GOOD ENOUGH
There was joy and disappointment for 18 year old Patricia Taea in the preliminary races of the 100m competition.  She achieved a seasonal best of 12.47 seconds earning her third place in her heat.  But that was just a touch short of the Cook Islands national record time of 12.44 seconds which she set at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in 2011.  And it also meant she didn't qualify for the round 1 races where only the first two from each heat and the two fastest losers from a field of 31 go through.


Patricia Taea gets set to go
ATHLETICS   Patricia Taea, Patrick Tuara  100M Sprint
               


SWIMMING  Zachary Tepaia Payne, Celeste Brown 50m Freestyle
Zachary Payne
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