CWG 2018

Beach volleyball, nappy changes, baby feeds and CWG bronze for Vanuatu mum Miller Pata

Pata along with team-mate Linline Matauatu won Vanuatu’s first-ever Commonwealth Games medal in beach volleyball, defeating Cyprus.

It’s not easy making history at the Commonwealth Games – and it doesn’t get any less complicated if you’re looking after a baby at the same time, as Vanuatu beach volleyball player Miller Pata has found.

While most athletes have ice baths and massages after games, it’s more likely to be nappy changes and baby feeds for Pata, who nevertheless won bronze with her team-mate Linline Matauatu on Thursday.

Pata hoisted seven-month-old Tommy in the air and placed her medal around his neck after the win over Cyprus which handed Vanuatu, a remote Pacific archipelago, its first ever Commonwealth Games medal.

The team-mates haven’t had it easy: they have had to organise their own accommodation, babysitting, meals and physiotherapy, after being told Pata couldn’t stay with her baby at the athletes’ village.

It remains an unusual situation in elite sport, but it could become more common as an increasing number of women return to competition after childbirth, including tennis world number one Serena Williams.

Pata was back in training just two months after having Tommy, and she said one of the biggest challenges was eating properly to maintain her energy.

“(My energy levels) were different but I managed my food and everything, so I could get back on to my normal routine,” the 29-year-old told AFP.

Pata isn’t the only new mum at the Commonwealth Games: two-time Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams had her first baby in October, and Australian race-walker Claire Tallent has an 11-month-old son.

Vanuatu coach Shanon Zunker said Pata had been “short-changed” by being refused permission to stay in the village, which has physiotherapy and massage services and all dietary needs catered for.

“Given the stage that they are on, I think it would be nice if they had access to all those things,” Zunker said.


“When Tommy has (visited) the village grounds, (athletes) are pretty excited to meet him... so I think I few extra smiles around the place would not have gone astray,” he added.

The next generation

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg said children were allowed to visit the village and that there were facilities for baby-feeding.

“It’s certainly something we’ll continue to look at as far as making sure we have the right policies, but right now I think we have a fairly robust approach,” he told AFP.

“We haven’t had any complaints and we’ve made provisions to allow the baby access to allow the mother to engage with the child on our day-pass system.”

Vanuatu is hardly known for its sporting prowess, but Pata and Matauatu have been rising up the beach volleyball ranks for some time.

They announced themselves as a credible force in 2015, with a win over world number one Brazil at a world tour event in the United States, and only narrowly failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

Both athletes also have daughters under 10 and their families share the caring duties as they juggle the demands of travel and training.

Sociologist Adele Pavlidis from Griffith University said motherhood in sport was becoming more and more prevalent.

“The visibility of women that have recently had children in sport has been quite low, and that is changing,” she told AFP.

“They are saying ‘just because a woman can give birth it doesn’t mean she is any more fragile or weak than anyone else.”

For the Vanuatu pair, family and sport are their lives.

“(Our daughters) get excited (watching us play), and they look forward to replacing us,” Matauatu laughed.

“The next generation!” said Pata.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.