A 35-year-old mother of five is setting the standard in training for the Samoa national netball team.
Gerardine Nafanua Solia-Gibb of Wellington, New Zealand is in the training squad of 18, which will be cut down to the final 12 in March for the World Cup in July.
She currently has the best yo-yo endurance test score in the squad, despite having five boys aged between one and 14 to look after.
She said people always ask how she does it, but there’s no great secret.
“You just manage when its in front of you, it’s just part of my life.
“I’m lucky because they’re all boys, they’re all energetic and sporty.”
She said she’ll take them training with her after picking them up from school, then after dinner everyone is ready for bed.
Solia-Gibb and her husband run a business doing fibre cable installation, where she can work from home.
She said in the beginning of training for this campaign she struggled to find a routine.
“By the time I’d finish I’d be too tired to look after the kids.”
Training got particularly tricky after the birth of Solia-Gibb’s most recent child.
“I needed to strengthen particular muscle groups like my core and back,” she said.
“And had to be careful not to be too strenuous.”
She had learned from previous experience the effects of breastfeeding on ligaments for example, making them softer and more prone to injury.
“I could do more as baby got older.”
Having religiously followed the programmes set by the coaches, Solia-Gibb said she feels the fittest she has been in years.
She said it’s all with the goal of being 100% for the World Cup in England.
“I’m there spiritually, still getting there physically and mentally.”
She said it’s crucial to perform given the sacrifices made being away from her family.
“It’s hard because I’ve been a stay-at-home mum.
“I have to play well for my family, and for Samoa as well.”
All the other members of the squad are in full-time employment as well.
Because of that and a lack of funding, it’s difficult to get everyone together for camps.
But Solia-Gibb said that means they are sure to make the most of it everytime.
“We had a great culture at the recent camp in Wellington.
“We have a young bunch of girls that look after us seniors, so we have to walk the talk.”
She said the team know how exhausting it can be for her with the kids.
“There’s no excuse to get where you want to be.
“It’s a struggle for me but I don’t let get in the way of my goal.”