Ana Ellison-Lupena: Showing up for her heritage

Ana Ellison-Lupena (Photo: Athletics Cook Islands)

In this second part of Islands Business’ preview of the Pacific Games in Honiara later this month, correspondent Alipate Pareti focuses on Ana Ellison-Lupena, who, at 16, is the youngest athlete representing the Cook Islands.  

Proud to represent her Pacific heritage in the SOL23, Ana will compete in the shot put, discus and hammer throw events.

“I was born and raised in Auckland but we moved down to Wellington two years ago for my Mum’s work. I’m [of] Cook Islands, Samoan and New Zealand Maori [descent]. I do throws in athletics, netball and a bit of basketball.”

Ana has huge support from her family.

“My biggest motivation is my family. I want to do the best I can for them especially after everything they have done for me.”

Preparations have been very hectic and they continue to work together towards the games.

“I’m excited for the Pacific Games. I think it’s going to be a really good experience. I train with my coach three to five times a week just to work on my 3 throwing events. I go for runs every other day and throughout the winter. I did a little bit of netball and biometrics stuff, things like that. And I visit a sports psychologist once a week to help with the mental side of things.”

“A challenge I had was probably just confidence in the circle when I’m throwing. I managed to overcome that by talking it out and visiting the sports psychologist and just thinking about my goals and aspirations and why I want to meet them. Just having to push through it, I guess.”

Ana encourages Cook Islands and Pacific youths “to just put yourself out there. Do things, even if you don’t know, just do it. You’ll face challenges at some point on your journey to success but you’ve just gotta push through adversity.”

She won the Cook Islands Discus Women’s Open in 2022 but at the regional level, this will be her first Pacific Games.