TEREAPII TAPOKI: DISCUS
24 year old Tereapii from Mauke is the current Oceania Champion in discus and the Cook Islands national title holder in both discus and in shotput.  Her personal best in discus is 57.58 metres.   She started training at the age of 14, and is passionate about her sport. 

"What I enjoy most about this sport is having the chance to meet and compete with other athletes and being proud to represent my country and outer island people from Mauke Island"


PETERO OKATAI:  SWIMMING (100 METRES BREASTSTROKE)
28 year old Petero started swimming at the age of five while living in Papua New Guinea, but gave it all up at 11 when he moved back to the Cook Islands because there was no proper pool to train in. 

It was only last year when he picked up the sport again while studying business management at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.  He returned to top competition at the 2007 world championships in Melbourne, Australia, finishing with a ranking of 113 in the 50 metres event.





Sam Pera Junior (weightlifting 105kg plus)


Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images


Mrs Pera will be a happy woman in the Cook Islands, according to husband Sam.

The 36-year-old took on his son in the 105kg weightlifting class in Melbourne on Wednesday - a Commonwealth Games first - but came off second best.

Despite the defeat, the father of five - he has three more sons and a daughter back at home - could not be happier.

He told BBC Sport: "It's just as well he beat me. My wife told me before we flew out to Australia that I'd be in a lot of trouble if I beat my son."

Sam snr added: "Thankfully she'll be happy with the result. It's important to keep the boss happy and there's no denying she's the boss."

Although the pair finished well out of the medals - in ninth and 10th respectively - the Peras were the star attraction in the field, dad whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his cheeky smile and left-right stare after every lift.

The majority of that noise came from 10 family members just a few rows from the stage.

        
COOK ISLAND FACTS
Population: 18,000 (UN, 2004)
Capital: Avarua, on Rarotonga
Area: 237 sq km (91 sq miles)
Prime minister: Jim Marurai

Country guide: Cook Islands

Among those present were Sam Snr's sister-in-law, Tokorima Teariki, who swapped the Cook Islands for Melbourne four years ago, and his nephew Kiki, who travelled from his home in Sydney for the competition.

Kiki said: "They've done good but we reckoned Sam Jnr would beat his dad all along. He's such a quiet kid but he's a really good kid and we're proud of both of them."

The Pera lifters had only just met up with their family a few hours before the competition - "we had to get them the tickets to get the supporters in," explained Sam Jnr.

And the teenager was quick to thank them for their support.

He added: "I always wanted to beat my dad as he's always set the standard for me growing up. I'm really proud of what I achieved here and what he's achieved throughout his career."

Sam Snr, who last year gave up his Oceanian sports scholarship to allow his son to take it up, used the end of the competition to announce his retirement from the sport.

"It's time for me to step away and put bread on the table for my family," explained the veteran of the Athens Olympics, where he finished 13th, and the Manchester Commonwealth Games, where he was fifth.

        
One Pera is over with weightlifting but another is going to continue to do me and the family proud
Dad Sam

Away from weightlifting, the Peras have their own farm in the Cook Islands, which the rest of the family have been looking after in their absence.

And Sam Snr, who lists his other hobbies as the beach, music and partying, believes he might lose more helping hands to weightlifting in the future.

"I've got three other sons who are aged 13, 10 and two who might take it up one day too," he said.

Ahead of the competition, both men were coached in their own makeshift gym at home by Mike Terarki, while Sam Jnr has also spent the last two months training in a specialised program in Samoa.

His dad, who was the Cook Islands sportsman of the year in 1994, 1995 and from 2002-4, explained: "It's been good for Sam and he's going to be great. He used to watch his dad lift when he was younger and he's just got better and better.

"One Pera's over with weightlifting but another is going to continue to do me and the family proud."

His son is in full agreement even going as far as to set himself ambitious goals.
SAM PERA JUNIOR: WEIGHTLIFTING (105KG+)
Teenager, Sam inherits a distinguished sporting legacy....his weightlifter father was Cook Islands sportsman of the year five times...in 1994, 1995 and from 2002-4He used to watch his dad lift when he was younger and he ended up beating him in the 105kg class at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.   But he nearly didn't make it to the Olympics because of an adminstrative error.  New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Brian Donnelly had to step in just a week before the games to ensure he got his visa in time. 

After his win at the Commonwealth Games Sam said:  "I always wanted to beat my dad as he's always set the standard for me growing up. I'm really proud of... what he's achieved throughout his career."

Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images





 
With just four athletes (plus four support staff and two officials), the Cook Islands had one of the smallest teams in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  And even though they didn't win any medals, they're proud to have been flying the flag of their homeland at the greatest sporting event in the world. 
Discus thrower, Terapii Tapoki
Weightlifter, Sam Pera Jr
GORDON HEATHER: 100 METRES SPRINT
18 year old Gordon from Rarotonga has most recently represented the Islands in the 12th IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland last month.  He failed to make it to the semi final.  But he recorded a personal best there of 11.57 seconds in the 100 metres, and is officially the Cook Islands' fastest man!

Photo by Athletics Cook Islands

Okotai sees his role as an ambassador for the sport in the Cook Islands.  Speaking to the Melbourne Age newspaper he said:    "To really develop the sport in the Cooks we need to have a swimming pool.  It's tough with a small population.  I mean, building a pool costs about half a million dollars, let alone maintaining it, so help from other associations would really help us."


RESULT:  Failed to make the final after coming 3rd (out of 3) in his heat, recording a time of 1 minute 20.2 seconds which was 9.37 second behind the winner. 
Olympic rings
RESULT:  Fell far short of her personal best with a throw of just 48.35 metres, and failed to make the final.
Olympic rings
Olympic rings
RESULT:  Achieved a new personal best time of 11.41 seconds, but it wasn't enough to take him through to the final.
Photo: Melbourne Age
RESULT:  Placed 12th out of 14, lifting 155kg in the snatch, and 195kg in the clean and jerk, making an overall total of 350kg.
Olympic rings
OLYMPICS 2008
Flying the Cook Islands Flag




Beijing Olympics 2008 logo
Cook Islands flag
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