Despite coming in second on the medal tally behind Australia, the Fiji National team bettered their performance from the last Pacific Games with a gold medal haul of 11 gold, 4 better than last year. The rainy weather that clouded the Laucala Bowl for 1 week straight during the Chiefs vs Crusaders match was never to be seen during the 3 day competition. Athletes were met with beautiful Fijian sunshine and a cool cross track sea breeze.
Mustafa Fall’s massive PB of in the Open Men’s discus throw kicked things off for the national team has Fall hurled his way into being the 2nd best Fijian discus thrower all time behind Mesulame Rakuro. Fall out psyched Debono of PNG who came in as the hot favorite after setting a new PNG discus record of 49.10m just a month before the championships. It did not end there as Fall went on to win the Open men’s shot put again outclassing Debono the very next day. It was not close to the Fiji national record however though it was enough for the win.
The second Fiji national record set came about in the Open Men’s Hammer throw when US based Abineet Ram tossed the hammer 50.61m in his first ever regional and international competition for the black and white jersey. Errol Qaqa was another athlete who was competing for the first time in the black and white and was in impressive form as he won the Men’s 110m high hurdles in what was his first ever 110m hurdle competition.
The third national record came in the Open Men’s 100m final when Banuve blitzed the final in a time of 10.20s; the fastest 100m ever ran on Fiji soil. Banuve went on the win the 200m final on the third day of competitions but his time was not fast enough to qualify him for Rio. Younger brother Josefa also made a name for himself when he pipped Australian School’s champion Nicholas Thomson in the final of the U18 boys’ 200m then later anchoring the U18 boys’ 4x100m relay team to an impressive win against Australia.
Another National record that was under threat was the Open Men’s High Jump when Malakai Kaiwalu equaled the national record with a jump of 2.09m, a record which he now shares with Antonio Rahiman. You’d say that it’s an impressive performance based on the fact that he had only been training for two and half months under the guidance of coach Leone Qumi.
He wasn’t alone in the list of Fiji athletes who failed to show consistency to training and pull out an impressive performance, Isireli and Waisale were also outstanding in the Open Men’s Long Jump. They both pulled out 7m+ jumps to take first and second, a performance that inspired the rest of the horizontal jumpers to push themselves in their own events.
Sailosi Tubuilagi, traditionally a 100m sprinter, also had a great outing in the Open Men’s 400m as he ran the fastest time in Fiji this year with a time of 48.67s ahead of Kameli Sauduadua who had led the Fiji Men’s 400m standings for this year. Avikash Lal capped off the impressive men’s performances when he and Ashneel Nand out strategized 2015 SPG gold medalist David Ikapas of Vanuatu for first and second.
Makereta Naulu was the most impressive on the women’s side as she finally won the battle of 2016 Fiji’s Fastest Female when she out ran Sisilia, Younis and Alesi in the finals to run a leading time of 11.94s to finish 2nd behind Toea Wisil in the Open Women’s 100m final, she later on anchored their relay team to gold, the quartet that was made up of Sisilia, Alesi, Aleiwalu and Makereta repeated their 2015 SPG performance outclassing the Australian, PNG and the Fiji Development team.
With the Oceania and Mini Games coming up next year, the Fiji National Team looks to be on track in regaining their regional dominance.