Aitu Cook Islands’ sole athlete at Youth Olympics

RAROTONGA (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) – Cook Islands is represented by a lone athlete at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) which is started earlier this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Swimmer Bede Aitu is competing in the 100 metres backstroke and 50m backstroke events at the games.

He had his first race on Monday (100m backstroke) and clocked 1 minute 3.46 seconds.

In his second race, the 50m backstroke, he clocked a personal best time of 28.90 seconds.

The 16-year-old Aitu is currently a Year 10 student at Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) in Auckland. He has been involved in a number of sports teams including softball (2014 Auckland U13 Championship winning team), U15 MAGS rowing team, and this year representing the MAGS U17 basketball team.

From a young age, Aitu’s goal has been to compete as a swimmer for the Cook Islands – the birthplace of his grandfather Paraia Aitu, who was born in Tengatangi, Atiu.

He began swimming at Trent Bray Swimming School (TBSS) as a 6-year-old in 2008 and progressed through the various levels to join the competitive arm of TBSS, Central City Swim Club, in 2011.

Aitu competes regularly and was named “Swimmer of the Meet” at the 2016 Division Two National Swimming Championships in Invercargill, leading the boys medal competition with a total of nine individual medals – seven gold (200, 100, 50 Back, 200, 400 I.M, 100 Fly and 100 Breast),  one silver (50 Fly) and one bronze (200 Breast).

He also gained a further three medals, gold and bronze as a member of the Auckland regional team, and a silver with his club relay team. He achieved a personal best in each of the 20 plus races he competed.

Shortly after this meet, Aitu competed at the 2016 New Zealand National Age Group Champs, achieving personal bests in all his events. He also competed at the 2016 New Zealand Short Course Champs, on return from an injury achieving an outstanding eight personal bests out of the 10 events he competed. He also reached open finals in two events.

Aitu enjoys competing in every stroke discipline, with backstroke, individual medley and fly his favourite events.

He represented the Cook Islands at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and the Oceania Swimming Championships in Papua New Guinea this year.

Aitu is a keen student who hopes to study overseas in the future, and excel to the best of his ability as a swimmer, representing the Cook Islands.

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