The Vaha’akolo family named their son Freedom to symbolise their desire of raising a boy who expressed himself and took opportunities those less fortunate don’t receive.
Until recently the sentiment behind the name was being abused Freedom confesses.
“I had some rough patches. I did some things I shouldn’t have done and moved schools. This year was my first regular year of full sport in high school, ” he says.
Freedom was a member of the Auckland Grammar School First XV rugby team and later earned selection for the New Zealand Barbarians. In athletics he won his first National senior Secondary Schools triple jump title to go with the five Auckland and two North Island gold medals he had previously won.
Freedom was the overwhelming favourite to win the triple jump and duly delivered leaping 13.95m which was well ahead of William Swan from James Hargest High School who jumped 13.81m. Freedom only took two of the available six jumps.
“I went as hard as I could on the first jump and took the lead. A lot of jumpers like to take all six jumps in the hope of improving on their previous score. I like to save energy and jump only when I have to,” he says.
Keen on athletics Freedom has been contacted to the Auckland Rugby Academy next year and will concentrate mostly on that sport.
“I really like athletics because there is a special bond between the competitors. Training is lonely and we all understand that so when we get together it’s quite social. However it’s hard to balance both athletics and rugby and rugby is a big opportunity,” Freedom explains.
Freedom in his first season of First XV rugby made the most of his chances. His quick feet and illusive running caught the attention of national selectors. His stunning try on Land Rover First XV rugby in the Grammar v King’s game was especially noteworthy.
“I knew some of the history, but I didn’t realise how big the game was until I actually played in it. My first touch of the ball was a mistake so I was determined to make amends. I saw a hole and just went for it,” he says.
Despite the 40-meter solo Grammar found themselves down 13-10 heading into the last minute. Against the head halfback Melino Fineanganofo dramatically stole the ball from the scrum and scored a try. Did Freedom honestly expect such an ending?
“I always back our team to win as long as the clock is ticking, but that was a great play by Melino,” he says.
Grammar lost twice to St. Kentigern College by three and two points respectfully to surrender the 1A title.
“I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Those were close games between two good teams. They could have gone either way, but I guess that’s sport. I honestly thought my best game was the final,” Freedom stresses.
Freedom was in fine form for the New Zealand Barbarians. He scored a try in the narrow defeat to the New Zealand Schools where the Barbarians made a strong point.
“A couple of small mistakes cost us, but I honestly think we had a more united team and surprised New Zealand. For three days we were put in a camp with no cell phone reception. I think this brought us together because it forced us to socialise and show how much we wanted it,. You have to stay humble and alert all the time,” Freedom concludes.
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