21 Oct 2020

Mauke still celebrating Cook Islands Games success

1:48 pm on 21 October 2020

The island of Mauke is still celebrating four days after winning the 2020 Cook Islands Games.

The southern island topped the open division standings with 118 points, two points clear of both Aitutaki and Mangaia.

Mauke celebrate winning the 2020 Cook Islands Games.

Mauke celebrate winning the 2020 Cook Islands Games. Photo: Facebook/Cook Islands Sports

Mauke won medals in all 21 sports they contested but the bulk of their success came in athletics, with 2016 Olympian Alex Beddoes among the star performers.

Team manager Akaiti Purea admitted their overall victory was something of a surprise.

"We didn't even expect it - it was quite a shock," she said.

"Considering towards the last day of the comp that the tally medals were actually so close - it was anyone's game - but we're very proud and overwhelmed that we came out on top of the Games."

Alex Beddoes, double gold medalist at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, was named 2020 Cook Islands Sportsman of the Year.

2020 Cook Islands Sportsman of the Year Alex Beddoes was among the star performers for Mauke. Photo: Facebook / Cook Islands Sports

The population on Mauke is between 300 and 400 although most of their athletes for the Cook Islands Games were based on Rarotonga.

Akaiti Purea said their success was a big deal back home.

"Everyone is so proud of the achievement...for this Cook Islands Games," she said.

"Yesterday we took our winning trophy back home to the island of Mauke and now they are celebrating having the trophy there for a couple of days before we return it back to the mainland here on Raro."

Mauke won gold in handball.

Mauke started strong, winning gold in handball on the first day of competition. Photo: Facebook/Cook Islands Sports

The Cook Islands Games was revived from a five-year slumber in an effort to bolster sporting competition in the country in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Almost 4,000 locals took part across 17 days of fierce competition and friendly rivalry, either competing on the field, officiating the 25 sporting disciplines or volunteering off it.

"Considering what's happening with Covid I take my hat off to CISNOC - which is our Cook Islands sports body - for organising this successful Games, Akaiti Purea explained.

"It actually brought everyone together within the Cook Islands and just to show everyone that even with this pandemic going on we can still come together as one and have fun and enjoy each other's company."

The Cook Islands celebrate the success of the event at the 2020 closing ceremony.

The Cook Islands celebrate the success of the event at the 2020 closing ceremony. Photo: Bank of the Cook Islands/ Creators Hype Digital Media Agency

"It was so good to see some of the families - the mum, the dad, the kids - all coming together and representing one island, or otherwise there were others that were representing different islands which they all came from and it was good to see all of that and it actually brought out the island pride we have in ourselves and it really showed throughout the Games."

After staging the biggest sporting event in the Pacific Islands this year, the next edition of the Cook Islands Games had already been locked in for 2022 and Purea said Team Mauke was already hyped up and keen to return to training to ensure they were ready to go in two years time.