Today is a special day! It is Tupou Neiufi’s 11th birthday YAY! As explained in a previous blog post, Tupou is partially physically disabled due to a hit-and-run accident back in 2004 when she was 2 years of age. It was a traumatic event. Doctors had ruled out the possibility of Tupou being able to walk again but her parents were determined to do all that they can to support Tupou’s physical development.
Currently, Tupou is a member of the Howick Pakuranga Swim Club. She has been selected for Paralympics New Zealand’s Xccelerate 2 Xcellence swimming programme which identifies and supports athletes who display the potential to win medals for New Zealand at the Paralympic Games. Paralympics New Zealand supports and encourages opportunities for disabled people to participate in sports, from regional, national and international levels. For more info please visit: www.paralympics.org.nz
On Saturday 5th November 2011, the Paralympics New Zealand Nationals in swimming took place in Hamilton, New Zealand. In this competition, Tupou won a gold medal, two silver medals and a bronze medal (as shown in the photo above and directly below).
More recently, Tupou competed in the National Independence games, a mini version of the Paralympics where children from the ages of 8 to 17 years old from all over New Zealand compete against each other in various sports. This year it was held in Auckland and she came first in the breast stroke heat (as shown in the photo below), 1st 100 metre freestyle, 1st 50 metre backstroke, 2nd 50 metre butterfly, and 3rd 50 metre freestyle. Furthermore, in September 2012, she will travel to Wellington (capital city of New Zealand) where she has qualified to compete in the New Zealand Short Course Championship in the Athletes with a disability category. She is the youngest athlete with a disability to qualify for this event, and it is an open event which means she will be competing against older children and also adults. She is a young star!
HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY TUPOU! We love you and we are so proud of all your efforts and achievements to date! Continue to be an inspiration to your younger siblings and everyone around you. As a surprise for your birthday, this poem was written specifically for you in celebration of how far you have come. Continue to work hard in all that you do. ‘Ofa lahi atu xox
Traversing the Waters (for Tupou Neiufi)
© Maryanne Pale, 2012
As your feet lift off the starting block
You dive into a pool of endless possibilities
Like a dolphin, your body moves swiftly through the clear waters
Leaving ripples of impossibilities behind you
You lift your head each moment to inhale
Counting each breath and making each breath count
You dip speedily in and out of the water time and time again
Proving that life is worth living
The swimming pool transforms into an ocean
As you navigate the waters of life’s uncertainties
Gracefully dancing near the surface water
Accentuating the butterfly as you tumble, twist with rhythm and speed
Each arm stroke moving forward and back in circular motion
Strengthened by your sheer determination
As the water laps at the edge
You extend your legs and kick into the glide
You traverse the waters fearlessly with power
And everytime you swim below the surface
Always remember to rise back up
To conquer the impossibilities!
To live your life!
And to succeed!
I love you Tupou xox