Curreen eyes golden Pacific Games finish to end illustrious career
One of Samoa's most successful track and field athlete, Aunese Curreen, cannot wait for the opening ceremony of the Pacific Games.
A day away from the the start of the much-anticipated event, Curreen, whose heroics during the last Pacific Games held in Samoa made the nation extremely proud, wants nothing less this time around.
The 37-year-old from Tanugamanono will line up for the 800 metres on Monday at Apia Park, almost 12 years since he won three gold medals in the 2007 Pacific Games at the same venue.
He is running the same events he did last time; 800, 1500 and 5000 metres, in what will be his competitive running swansong, as he says goodbye to the sport he loves.
“As soon as I knew Samoa was hosting the games after Tonga quit, that’s why I started running again," Curreen said.
He said he weighed over 100 kilogrammes back then in 2017.
After training twice a day for the last couple of years, he is down to 66 kgs.
Curreen had to fit that full-time training in with his full-time job as a Fuelling Technician at Auckland Airport, so he would do over 40 kilometres a day running from his home in Henderson Valley to work and cycling home afterwards.
In 2007, he was a single, full-time athlete.
But now Curreen has a young family of an eight-year-old daughter, four-year-old son and one-year-old baby girl.
They've all come for the Games too, along with his mother and father and supporters from New Zealand and Australia.
“They’re all here to support me because this will be my last, then I’ll retire from running," Curreen said.
He said he wants to sign off with a bang, and add more medals to his triple-gold haul from 2007 and 1500m bronze from the 2003 games.
“Every athlete is aiming to win a gold. But it’s been a long time…, I’m not bringing 2007 here."
Curreen knows their are younger athletes at the highest level now, but said he still ranks third or fourth in the Pacific so will hopefully be in contention.
“It’s a different story on the race day."
His first competition since returning to running was the 2018 Oceania Polynesian Regional Championships last November in Tahiti, where he picked up two silver medals.
“I just wanted to earn my spot, I didn’t want to just walk into the team because it’s not fair for the local athletes."
Curreen said a home Pacific Games is a good opportunity for them, and he is pleased the Team Samoa athletics squad contains so many high school students.
“That’s where I started as well. Everything started here at this track about 20 years ago."
- Samoan record holder in 800, 1000, mile, 1500, 5000
- Pacific Islands record holder 800m
- First and only sub 4 minute mile by a Pacific Islander