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The newly-anointed Cook Islands Sportsman of the Year Alex Beddoes wants to get home to see his family and thank his community – but quarantine rules make it near impossible.
Neither runner Beddoes nor paddler Jane Nicholas was able to get to Rarotonga to accept their Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards at the weekend – both were stuck in New Zealand.
Beddoes said he would have liked to come home, but couldn’t afford to lose a month of training in quarantine – though ironically, the awards were held in the same resort where returning Cook Islanders are in managed isolation.
Despite a standout year on the track, the runner said he was surprised to win the award, which his parents accepted on his behalf.
He paid his respects to the other nominees. “I think they are all talented and have worked extremely hard to achieve their own results in 2019,” he said.
“When I look across the codes of our other teams and individuals, I think it shows that we have a strong crop of both sportsmen and women at the moment that are active and performing really well.
“It feels great to be also part of this era of sporting success the Cook Islands is currently enjoying.”
After starting his 2019 season in Melbourne with two new National records in the 400m and 800m, Beddoes followed it up with a fourth place finish in the 800m at the Oceania Athletics Championships held in June.
This was followed up with two gold medals at the Pacific Games in Samoa, in the 800m and 1500m, impressively within 24 hours of each other.
To finish off the year, Beddoes returned home to visit family and just for fun, competed in the 10km event at the Round Rarotonga Road Race, coming in first place with a time of 37 minutes and 6 seconds, a new course record.
Like many athletes around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced him to reconsider his training programme ahead of next year’s delayed Tokyo Olympics.
“I am trying to get back home but I am waiting until travel can happen more freely. As an athlete I can’t afford to lose a month of training due to room confinement in order to complete quarantine regulations.
“At the moment I am running six days a week, training 2 to 4 hours, a day so anyone that knows sport would understand how a period in quarantine would set me back. Especially with my focus very much geared towards Tokyo next year.”
It is this current situation in New Zealand that has seen Beddoes hit the pavement and the local Auckland parks largely by himself, unlike his usual training scenario when he is based in Melbourne.
“It is pretty challenging in the aspect that having other people around you elevates the standard of training, however I do know a few runners in NZ that I am going to collaborate sessions with in the meantime to replicate that group environment.”
While there are plenty of negatives with the current pandemic, Beddoes said one positive it has brought about are fewer distractions.
“It has had a surprisingly positive affect on my athletics. As an individual sport, the social distancing and the bans put on team gatherings, it hasn't affected me too much because my training can be adaptable and done anywhere with the right tools and planning.”
Beddoes said he had plenty of support throughout his endeavours.
“I want to say thank you firstly to my coach Justin (Rinaldi) for this commitment to making me better and being the reason why I am at the level I find myself. Also my former coach Keith Roberts who also has taught me invaluable lessons as a younger athlete.
“Of course my parents Damien and Paulina and my girlfriend Kate. They are always there to support and help me and have contributed hugely into my achievements and I wouldn't be here without them.
“Lastly to Athletics Cook Islands and CISNOC for believing in me, providing encouragement and giving me the necessary support to pursue athletics at the elite level.
“The combination of all these people above is what draws out the best in me and while I am the one on the track, when it comes to the crunch they all play a part in how good I can become and i am really grateful and appreciate everything they have done for me.”.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
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