Over the last couple of months I have been working with the elite athletes from Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa and Vanuatu. This initiative is part of Oceania’s Voices of the Athletes Program. Our team goes into the islands and we conduct interactive workshops for the athlete and their entourage on Peak performance, Anti Doping, Stop HIV, Go Green and the athletes Career Program.

This was all in preparation for the Pacific Games. The Pacific Games is like the Olympic Games for the Pacific Island nations and was developed after world war two to bring all the 29 small islands together in the region for sport after it had been so divided during the war. Australia and New Zealand weren’t included as they would have dominated the games, this would have defeated the idea of a “friendly” games. The games are staged every 4 years with over 3500 athletes competing in 29 different sports over 2 weeks. This year the games were in New Caledonia

It has been so rewarding working with the island athlete they are so grateful for any assistance and knowledge you can share with them. It also makes me realise how lucky NZ athletes are and the facilities we have. In Tonga the weight lifting team train in a make shift weight room, that is a carport. It has the minimum weights, bars and benches but the passion that these athletes were training with surely made up for the lack of facilities.