Tuesday, 24 June 2014


          BLACK                 SOCIAL          HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peter Tuccandidgee on the Road to London

Bob Snow takes a look at one North Queensland Athlete who would like to make the trip to the London Olympics.

On a recent trip to Far North Queensland I met Peter Tuccandidgee at his workplace in Mossman Gorge. We talked about his plans for the future and his ambitions in the sport. I had seem him in action during the December 2006 Oceania Grand Prix / Oceania Championships in Fiji and Samoa and like all those who observed him there I was impressed with his considerable potential.

Peter has been generating quite a bit of news locally because of his athletics' success. There have been articles in the Cairns Post, The Herald and Weekly Times and on the Athletics Australia website. (Just a quick Google will uncover many more articles).

Peter had a natural talent that was apparent from an early age. He grew up with healthy physical activities - not parked in front of the television / video game / computer like so many urban Australians.

He was "discovered" by a Federal Government programme to identify and develop indigenous athletes. Following an early trip to California in 2003, Peter started to make steady progress. In 2004 he was introduced to the wider region at the Oceania Championships in Townsville. There he competed in the 200m and 400m (in which he won the silver medal in the time of 48.14).

Peter now had the same sort of profile in the Pacific Islands as did his fellow indigenous athletes Wagui Anau and Otis Gowa who had participated in several Oceania events and the PNG National Championships.

Many of the recent media reports about Peter stress his traditional lifestyle, and while these colourful stories about "barefoot pig-hunting and prowling for turtles in the Coral Sea" are quite true, what strikes me as more important is the fact that he has a quiet determination to succeed. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and also knows what he needs to do to achieve his goals.

It is well documented that Peter harbours ambitions to be on the Australian Olympic Team to the London Games in 2012, and is currently a member of the "Jump Start To London" Indigenous team. His personal bests continue to tumble and he has converted his 2004 Oceania silver to gold in 2006 and capped off a good six-month period with an impressive win at Arafura in May 2007.

He knew that he would have to leave his paradise of Mossman to achieve his goals and his move to Newcastle in NSW, to train with other indigenous athletes, under Max Debnam came as no surprise.

It is obviously much easier to prepare for major competitions when you are training under the guidance of an inspirational coach and with a large group of highly motivated athletes. To train on your own is much harder and requires a lot of self-motivation, perseverance and confidence. Peter, a self-coached athlete, has these attributes, but to work with others will make the task easier, and much more pleasurable.

His achievements give hope to athletes all around Oceania. With the right attitude, physical potential and ambition, even those athletes living away from the main athletics' centres, can make an impact on the sport and achieve success.

We wish him all the best in his endeavours to represent Australia at a major championship.

Peter was very much looking forward to the Oceania Grand Prix Series and Melanesian Championships to be held in Cairns in August, but he is carrying a hamstring injury and will not compete. He will, however, be there to watch the events and cheer on his team.

Career Highlights

(Peter was born in Cairns on 29th May, 1984).

2004 Oceania Championships, Townsville
400m - 48.75 1h
400m - 48.14 2F

2006 Oceania Championships, Apia
200m - 21.91 1h
200m - 21.65 1F

2007 Arafura Games, Darwin
100m - 10.87 2h
100m - 10.92 3F
200m - 21.82 1h
200m - 21.49 1F - smashing the old Games Record of 21.78

He was also a member of the gold medal winning Indigenous
Jump Start To London 4 x 400m Relay Team