USP Vanuatu Campus Director, Dr Andrew MacKenzie, will travel with the Vanuatu National team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as a coach for the Men’s singles event rower, Rillio Rio Rii.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will take place from 23 July-8 August, 2021 with Rillio as the flag bearer for the Vanuatu contingent for the Olympics opening ceremony.
Dr MacKenzie, who started coaching the sports he loved as a volunteer 20 years ago, has developed to become a national coach, taking the Vanuatu National team to the World Championships in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
He has coached rowing in Australia and Vanuatu. In 2005, Dr MacKenzie coached an Australian team at the under 23 world championships.
He encourages young people to take an interest in sports, develop their interests, and give back to their societies.
“Rowing has been important to me as an athlete and as a coach,” he said.
“I have friends from all over the world from rowing, and we meet up at events. I have also supported rowing in the Pacific, including establishing a new programme in American Samoa in 2019.
“It is important to be part of something bigger than you and your immediate networks.
Volunteering has been a big part of mine and my family’s life,” Dr MacKenzie added.
He added that apart from academic studies, students in the Pacific should consider taking part in sports as it is a great way to “develop essential skills for life”.
“I always find that students who play sport are better graduates and professionals in the long term.” Dr MacKenzie said.
The Vanuatu team leaves for the Olympic Games on July 15, 2021.
The University of the South Pacific and the Vanuatu Campus staff and students wish Dr MacKenzie and Rillio Rio Rii the best at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.