Christie Mokotupu PainPod Ambassador
PainPod Ambassador and Volleyball star Christie Mokotupu now has her eye fixed on the 2020 Olympics and a set intention to help others avoid the same crises and drug problems that plagued her early career.
Taking a long jump 4th in the Australian Nationals at just 8 years old, PainPod Ambassador Christie Mokotupu developed a taste for winning at swimming, athletics, cross country, netball, basketball, soccer and softball before finally choosing the sport she saw as the hardest and most challenging of the lot - Volleyball . Making the national team at 14 and, by 17, the youngest volleyball player ever to represent Australia with a 2000 Olympic Games appearance under her belt, she was tipped for even greater things. Until, that is, just three years later, a progressive slide into drug addiction had derailed her career at 20 and led her into failed relationships, lost friendships and ultimately cost her the relationship with her son and his father. Her awakening through her faith finally freed her from addiction four years ago and she founded Candifest Ministry and The Wander Organisation to help others on the the path to recovery. Sharing her story as the platform to warn others of the dangers of drug use, she’s also made the tough return journey to top volleyball. Now the Captain of the Sydney Amazons Club she’s back competing in the Australian Volleyball League and training as a full time athlete - we caught up with her as she sets her intention to Beach Volleyball - with an eye firmly fixed on an Olympic return in Tokyo 2020.
You are now back as a full time athlete, an ambassador for drug free choices with your work for Candifest and the Wander Organisation - as well as being a full time mother! What does that all entail?
Crazy time management!!! People can't keep up with me and I don't expect them to because they are not wired like me.
It requires a lot of sacrifice, discipline and saying no to many many things where people call me "boring". I am ok with that too. Staying focused is saying no as Steve Jobs once said. I am known for being focused and driven.
By 14 you’d already made the Women's National Team and had made the move from Sydney to the A.I.S in Canberra on a full time scholarship. Having played sport successfully from such a young age, how did it feel when you found yourself transitioning to the professional ranks?
It was a transition I was ready for but didn't have the right support and mentors around me. In hindsight I should have gone to college in the States and been much more prepared and seasoned to handle competitive contracts. I was a baby at 18 relying on adults to guide me. I flew to Italy and I was just expected to perform and that's it. When I didn't, I battled mentally. Even after 200 games for Australia I was still a kid in Europe trying to work it all out.
What have been your career highlights so far?
Well, as we’ve said, at 17 I was the youngest volleyball player ever to represent Australia and I went on to 200 appearances.
The Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, my professional contract at Padova, Italy 2001-2002 and then the World Championships in 2002 were all up there as my career highs.
What toll did playing at that elite level take on your body?
I never got injured. The only injury I sustained in all those years was a broken left ring finger. It got smashed so bad when blocking a ball in Taipei it fell apart into three pieces and when I flew into Sydney I had to have a plate and two screws to put it together again. I still can't put a ring on that finger or find a guy to either! I was very lucky but I think my youth as well as my strong Polynesian genetics saved me there! Coconut legs!
What did you do, or what tools did you use to combat the pain or issues you faced?
The only thing I suffered was tightness, soreness and being stiff. The Physio and Masseuse were available to us 24/7 and I was meant to visit them once a week - but I hated being rubbed and massaged because it was so painful, so I rarely went. I just had to cop a telling off from the coach or Physio before I finally made it happen. A typical teenager..
Was there anything as accessible as the PainPod around for athletes when you were competing?
Ha Ha! No! Even if there was I wouldn't know because I didn't take good care of myself as a teen. I would like to change that with a new generation.
What was the most obvious pressure with having a performance based and very physical career?
Keeping the weight off and down.
How did you handle this pressure at the time?
We didn't. We would get skin folds to check our percentage of fat so that is why I am always looking at my physique even today critiquing it. No matter how fit or lean I am I still have an "Olympic Level" in my mindset that hasn't left me that puts unnecessary pressure on myself but that's also how I get fitter, faster and become an elite athlete. That's how you become the best.. keeping track of your progress.
Looking back, was there a moment or period of time that changed the course of your life?
Yes when my coach said I wasn't good anymore and I lost my confidence and quit at 20. I then got bored and wanted to have fun and party like most girls my age. I was offered an ecstasy pill at 20 on NYE and said yes. That was the start of my partying with drugs.
How long do you think it took for you to see that you had gone off track, then how long until you decided to make a change and what was the motivation behind it?
I knew I had gone off track but I didn't care. I had such hate and self-loathing . I made decisions that brought me to a place of feeling cheap and I didn't care anymore about my past or reputation. I just buried it like it never happened and kept partying to drown out my regrets.
What were the first steps you took, and how did they get you back on track with your confidence and relationships?
My relationship with the father of my son broke down and at rock bottom I found Jesus. Jesus has opened every door since and everything I have in my hand today is because of him.
With all of your experiences, especially your return from addiction, what do you see as your strengths you can offer the younger community?
I am great at speaking publicly about drugs, I have a great peace and love when speaking about drugs hoping to impact a new generation and heal some still battling like I was. I don't give up on others, I take hits for others and I stand for others that can't speak or don’t have the same platforms that I have.
How have you been implementing these strengths and where would you like them to take you?
I am constantly getting asked to speak and it's one of my dreams to be a great public speaker for my Philanthropy Work and my Ministry Work one day. It is my calling to preach and I hope to speak about drugs and preach while traveling the world for beach volleyball over the next three years. I want it to take me around the world and to an Olympic Games. I am seriously living my dream right now. I'm not waiting. It's here thanks to God.
How did you come across the PainPod? What was the first thing you noticed when you tried it?
I was on a trip to the Gold Coast for a public speaking engagement and I met Tom the Co-founder of PainPod and I think he liked what he heard and we had a meeting and I took home a PainPod to try.
The first thing I noticed was how high the intensity can go because I jumped! My son was trying it at the same time and we both laughed. I have it all on video! I was taking a snap for Instagram when I jumped from not knowing what to expect. It's a great video and memory with my son.
What have you used it for?
My knee!! back, right shoulder and hitting arm for volleyball and neck.
What is your current program with the PainPod, how often are you using it at the moment?
Every second day but as my training increases maybe daily.
Did you notice any change after using it for a while?
Yes! It healed my very painful knee!
Have you let any of your friends or family try it? What was their PainPod experience?
Yes another athlete uses it full time like me and it has helped his back and knee. He is also a volleyball player.
Have your kids tried using it and what did they think?
Yes my son loved it but he has not used it enough to know the real benefits yet.