Athletics Medal Tally
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Athletics Fiji had a goal of winning a total of 11 gold medals but fell short by 1 gold medal. Despite public back lash about team selection and the continuous athletes subjugation on social media, the team performed exceptionally well compared to the 2015 Pacific Games team.
Leading the charge was defending 100m champion, Banuve Tabakaucoro. The fastest man in the Pacific sprinted to victory in a record-breaking time of 10.31 seconds, shaving .02 seconds off his previous record for the race.
In the women’s 100m, Wisil claimed gold in 11.56 seconds. Fiji’s Heleina Young took home silver, finishing in 11.82 seconds, and Wisil’s Papua New Guinea teammate, Leonie Beu, took bronze in 11.94 seconds. Wisil, who also ran a record time of 11.50 seconds in the morning’s qualifying heats to beat the previous record of 11.55 set in 2007.
Winning Fiji’s first medal at Apia park was Malakai Kaiwalu in the Men’s High Jump final, Kaiwalu tied PNG’s Peniel Richard for silver at 1.99m. First timer Waisea Jikoiono settle for 4th place on a count back regardless of clearing the bar at 1.99m as well. Their female counter part, Shawntelle Lockington won Fiji’s first gold medal at Apia park, clearing the the high jump bar at 1.65m.
Another first timer to take to the tracks was Naitasiri’s Vilimaina Naituku in the final of the Women’s 5000m where she walked away with personal best of 20:22.79s, a 6th place finish and a whole lot of experience.
Petero Veitaqomaki chased down bronze in 4:07.10s in the final of the Men’s 1500m, that was Petero’s second bronze medal of the games after stopping the clock at 1:54.72s behind Lerkin of PNG and Beddoes of the Cook Islands.
Elenani Tinai won the Women’s Heptathlon on Day 4 of the 2019 Pacific Games. Prior to the Championships, Elenani found that she was good at both jumping and running, therefore, she made the decision to enter the women’s heptathlon – clearly the right choice. With a total score of 4550, Elenani won 5 of the seven events of the women’s Heptathlon.
Despite the ‘real’ Pacific Island weather setting in, the performances on Day 4 were incredible.
Avikash Lal of Fiji took it out hard in the 5000 metres but it was the kick of the Tahitian, Samuel Aragaw that saw Tahiti take out their first Gold Medal at this year’s Pacific Games. Samuel waited until the last 3 laps to make his move and move he did. The young Tahitian ran a great tactical race and with a time of 15:45.54 was too good for Avikash.
In the women’s 200m Papua New Guniea’s Toea Wisil won gold in 23.45 seconds, roughly half a second ahead of the silver medallist, Heleina Valetta Young of Fiji.
The crowd was quiet with anticipation for the Men’s 200-metre final. The battle between Banuve and Jeremy was set. Banuve had been the victor in the 100 metres but was he up to the double. Banuve came out of the blocks like a rocket and held his composure into the straight to edged past Samoa’s Jeremy Dodson by four-hundredths of a second to retain his title. In a time of 20.87 from Jeremy in 20.91.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, Koniel retained her title, finishing in 1 minute, 0.14 seconds. Fiji’s Ana Baleveicau secured silver in 01:01.01 while Annie Topal of PNG won bronze in 1:02.39.
Mustafa Fall won the gold for Fiji in the Men’s Shot Put event with a new national record throw of 17.52 meters. Tahiti’s Tumatai Dauphin finished in second with 17.40m and the podium was completed by Samoa’s Sulupo, who achieved a best effort of 16.07m.
Eugene Vollmer of Fiji defended his men’s triple jump title in a tight contest. The 30-year-old leapt 15.53 metres to land just grains of sand ahead of Papua New Guinea’s Peniel Richard, who jumped 15.51m for silver, repeating his medal from the Port Moresby 2015 XV Pacific Games.
In the Womens Para Shot Put, Vatunisolo claimed top spot on the podium with her biggest throw of the afternoon, 7.83m, scoring 74.14 per cent for her classification. New Caledonia’s Rose Vandegou claimed silver with a 7.05m throw which earned her an overall percentage of 67.65 per cent. Vanuatu’s Elie Enock snatched bronze with a best throw of 6.71m, earning her 63.54 per cent.
The men’s and women’s 4x100m relays brought to a close a fantastic week of athletics at Samoa 2019. The Fijian anthem rang out two final times across a packed Apia Park Stadium to close the Samoa 2019 XVI Pacific Games athletics program, as Fiji spoilt PNG’s party by claiming gold in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays on Friday night. Fiji claimed gold in 45.76 seconds, PNG silver with a time of 45.97 seconds and Vanuatu settled for bronze in 50.34 seconds. In the men’s relay, Fiji edged Samoa in a nail biting photo finish that had the Apia Park Stadium grandstand on tenterhooks. The fastest man in the Pacific, Fiji’s Banuve Tabakaucoro, crossed the line in 40.18 seconds, eight hundredths of a second before Samoa’s Jeremy Dodson for Samoa with a time of 40.26 seconds. Papua New Guinea secured bronze in 41.34 seconds.
But Fiji wasn’t done there, Avikash Lal finally brought the curtains down on the the Athletics competition for team Fiji as he took out the Men’s half marathon early Saturday morning, concluding Athletics Fiji’s total gold medal haul of ten.
Story by: Oceania Athletics (31/07/2019)