Tonga’s group of young archers are starting draw attention. Fifteen years old Lusitania Tatafu, was the only female athlete representing Tonga in archery, at the January 2014 New Zealand Nationals, held in Whitianga. She won 1 Gold Medal and 1 Bronze Medal. Her gold Medal in Clout set a new New Zealand record of 146 points at 145 metres distance. She also received 1 Bronze Medal in FITA Target for her age group, shooting at distances of 70, 60, 50 and 30 meters. New Zealand and New Caledonian won gold and silver respectively at the FITA Target.
In the Match Play elimination ranking rounds, Lusitania was drawn against the Gold Medalist of last year, in the seniors category. Lusitania was very pleased with herself, where it was a very close shoot out. She went three rounds with the more experienced athlete wining by one point in the end.
Her first international tournament was at the age of thirteen at the 2012 New Zealand Nationals. She also participated at the 2012 Oceania Championships and the 2013 Australian Archery Open Championship. Although still relatively a novice to archery, the exposures to international competitions has helped expose her to the pressures and high standards expected of an athlete, and identified weak areas where improvements are required. She struggled in the early tournaments with her form, strength and consistency. However, with regular practise, she is now starting to show technical improvements, guided and coached by Hans Jensen and Sifa Taumoepeau. Lusitania says she still has a lot of work and training ahead of her with conditioning and being able to shoot under pressure, but was overjoyed with the medals won in New Zealand, which was a confidence booster.
Lusitania is now training to qualify for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, to be held in Nanjing, China in August 2014. To qualify, she needs to shoot 600 points at 60 meters distance, with 72 arrows. Arne Jensen, the other 15 year old male archer, is also vying to qualify. At the same time, Lusitania is one of four youths that received a Universality Place for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Lusitania says that she trains 3 to 4 times a week, and sometimes misses fun times hanging out with friends. However, representing her country internationally is a great honour. He says that archery is character building, and has presented her with extraordinary opportunities in terms of travelling to interesting places, meeting and learning from motivated and dedicated athletes.
Lustania’s younger brother, Lualala Tatafu, 11 years old is also a keen archer. In the 2012 New Zealand Nationals, Lualala performed really well and won 3 gold medals, and 1 silver in Target and Clout categories. In 2013 he broke his arm which caused a dramatic drop in frequency and consistency of his training. At the 2014 New Zealand Nationals, Lualala received 1 silver medal in Clout and came fifth in Target. Lualala was disappointed with his last performance but is committed to strive to get back into his old form with hard work and regular training.
Lusitania and Lualala would like to acknowledge the strong support of their parents and family, who encourage them and dedicate their time to always be available to take them training, as well as financial support to attend these tournaments and equipment. And not least, Hans and Sifa, for their commitment, encouragement and belief in them. Support by TASA and World Archery is now looking promising with continued improvements in performances and results.