10 July 2019, Apia Samoa. Despite the dominance of Tahiti, New Caledonia and Fiji at the Pacific Games Vaa being held at Mulifanua, Samoan firefighter Anne Cairns has won a bronze medal for the Women’s V1 500m sprint.
Coming in at 2:32.06 the Samoan Olympian was less than two seconds away from Tahiti’s gold medalist Vaimiti Mahoni (2:30.51) and Fiji’s Eleanor Vateitei (2:31.50) who came in second.
Ms Cairns is a New Zealand Samoan whose parents met when her father Lawrie Cairns came to Samoa in the 70s as a New Zealand Land Information Surveyor.
“Dad was a Secretary of the Sailing Club and he used to be one of the starters for the Sailing races.”
Anne’s mom Togikoko Fepuleai is from Nofoalii and Salamumu.
Anne’s support crew of Mom, Dad and her sister flew into Samoa yesterday to surprise her.
“I thought that they weren’t going to be able to come because Mom was going to see a doctor, and my sister was busy with work;
“But it’s just the best surprise ever, because we were really hoping to get Mom here”.
Anne lives in New Plymouth with her partner but works in Palmerston North as a full time firefighter.
“When I’m in Palmerston North I train in a small lake that is 800 metres long and I have to go around and around, and when I’m in New Plymouth I can train in a bigger river or sometimes I can in the ocean.”
Anne is racing in the V1 16km Marathon on Friday and the V6 24km Marathon with the team on Saturday.
As well as the Pacific Games preparations, Anne is training for the K1 Kayaking World Champions next month in Hungry which is a prelim to the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers for Oceania in Feb next year.0
Having represented Samoa at the 2016 Rio Olympics for K1 Kayaking, Anne’s commitment to the sport of Vaa, Alo Paopao and Kayaking is a self-funded passion.
“I usually try to come to Samoa a few times a year for racing and to paddle with the local reps and have been doing that since 2015.”
“This is my passion to travel and paddle and I don’t have Any problems finding it because it’s a passion”.