Abner Waterhouse came from Samoa to the Hawke’s Bay as a seasonal worker part of the RSE scheme working community.
He didn’t know that with just over two months left of his time in the Hawke’s Bay that he’d be selected for the Samoan Olympic team, as part of the judo competition contingent.
Abner, who is a cousin to SPASIFIK reporter Laumata Lauano, arrived in the Bay four months ago to work with Whakatu-based Thornhill Horticulture Contracting and had been relying on his laptop computer to communicate with friends, family and judo coach Australian Patrick Mahon back in Samoa.
However he missed emails from his coach advising he had been picked to represent Samoa in the 73kg class, because his computer had been hacked leaving him out of the loop for a few days.
His coach began getting in touch with his brother and others back in Samoa asking why Abner was not responding.
Eventually they were able to get a hold of him, to tell him he’d qualified for the Rio Olympics.
The NZ Herald reported that the quietly spoken 31-year-old was stunned.
"I thought I might have had a slight chance of making it," he said, adding one of the first things his coach asked was "are you still in good shape?"
To which he replied yes because his days of picking, and especially vine work which used muscles crucial to judo competition, had kept him fit and strong.
It was good news for the man who began learning judo at the age of 12, and started competing at 15, back in his village of Falealili.
Abner was en route to London for the 2012 Olympics as part of the judo team when he suffered a serious injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in one knee.
It’s made him even more cautious this time around.
He’ll be following in the footsteps of his elder brother Trivolta, who represented Samoa at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The Rio Olympics run from Friday 5 August – Sunday 21 August.