Pacific Games Wrap Up

Athletics achieved its stated aim of retaining its status as the #1 track and field nation at the Pacific Games with a total of 14 gold 20 silver and 17 bronze with Fiji second on 10 gold 7 silver and 3 bronze. However Australia, competing for the first time in athletics won gold in four events in which PNG has been dominant in at recent Games (mens 400m, mens 400m hurdles, womens 800m and womens 100m hurdles).

Given that PNG won silver in all these events in Apia then if one is comparing this years results to previous Games the 14 gold should be 18. PNG athletes won gold medals in all disciplines of track and field – sprints , hurdles, relays, middle distance, long distance, jumps and throws and the total of 51 medals represents 37% of the Team PNG total.

We never expected to match the total of 22 gold from 2015 but with far less financial backing for the team this was a great result overall. Obviously Toea Wisil was one of the standout performers, winning individual gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m for the third Games in a row. This has never been done before, and Toea did it with her best performances for some time, showing once again that when she has her back to the wall Toea is a formidable opponent.

Poro Gahekave also had an outstanding Games with three gold medals and her personal bests in 1500m and 5000m show that she is still improving 12 years after her debut at the 2007 Games. Unfortunately Poro developed a heavy cold after standing in the pouring rain for the 1500m medal presentation and wasn’t able to complete the half marathon.

Much was made of Simbai Kaspar’s outstanding start to the week with Gold medals in the 10000m and steeplechase but below par performances in the 5000m and half marathon meant that the Games ended on a disappointing note for him. This was a Games in which Leonie Beu came of age with outstanding performances in the 100m 200m and 400m.What a pity she could not finish the Games with a richly deserved gold medal ,despite helping the PNG squad to a National record 45.97secs in the 4*100m relay.

There were many quality performances from the PNG team and the future looks bright. Daniel Baul established himself as one of the rising stars of Pacific Island athletics with standout performances in both the 400m and 400m hurdles. Peniel Richard had a great Games with a National record in the triple jump and medals in all three jumps.

Annie Topal showed her quality by upstaging Rellie Kaputin in the triple jump and a quality run in the 400m hurdles very soon after competing in Long Jump. PNG again showed its depth in the mens 400m with three athletes in the 47 point bracket behind Australian Steven Solomon who was a finalist in the 2012 Olympic Games 400m. Messach Fred, in his first year in Athletics and one of the products of the NSI Programme was rewarded with a silver medal in a very competitive mens 1500m race. Karo Iga was a revelation in the Decathlon and his performance is yet another reminder how much talent there is out there in the villages waiting to be developed.

The Camp in Cairns was an outstanding success and throws Coach Brett Green did an admirable job in taking control of the team and building a wonderful team spirit that was noticed by many observers in Samoa.Credit must also go to Team Manageress Nola Peni for a massive effort over several months and in particular the final few weeks




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