A young man in a foreign country took the opportunity with both hands to improve his athletic performance, with an ultimate dream of representing Kiribati at the Olympic Games. That dream comes true today as Lataisi Mwea of Kiribati lines up in the men’s 100m.
Lataisi arrived at the OAA Training Centre, Gold Coast, Australia, in June 2019 as a young fresh eye 19-year-old High Jumper. Just like the rest of us, little did he ever expect the events of the next two years to occur.
As quickly as he improved, the circumstances worldwide changed. His focus was primarily on the High Jump in the early days, and he quickly improved under coach Phil Newton – setting a new National Record of 2.00m. Unfortunately, travel back to Kiribati was restricted. Thanks to the support from the Australian government’s #PacificAusSports program and his national Olympic committee, Lataisi extended his stay at the High-Performance Centre on the Gold Coast.
With the potential to earn the Universality for Kiribati, Lataisi decided to commence sprint training with coach Leanne Hines-Smith. His performances in sprints were promising from the outset, and it was not long before he improved his 200m National Record on two occasions and is extremely close to rewriting the record in the 100m. Off the track, whilst difficult times, Lataisi made the most of it, learning as much as he can about his sport, including undertaking a coaching course to assist other young athletes in his country eventually.
His hard work, perseverance and focus has been rewarded with his selection in the Men’s 100m at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. His birthday celebrations will be put on hold until his return, as he turns 21 on the day he boards his flight to Tokyo.
We at Oceania Athletics, alongside his country, Kiribati, are incredibly proud and look forward to seeing him compete in the 100m. Lataisi will feature in the Preliminary Round – heat 1. 11:35am Local, 12:35pm AEST and 2:35 pm Kiribati time.