2009 Oceania Championships
The 2009 Oceania Championships was held in Apia, Samoa from February 24-28, 2009.
On February 22, 2009, Palau’s wrestling departed to Apia, Samoa. The team consisted of the following:
- Elgin Elwais
- Franson Gibbons
- Jarvis Blesam Tarkong
- Samantha Rechelluul
- Radley Umang
- Florian Skilang Temengil
- John Tarkong Jr. (Team Leader)
Also traveling with the team were two (2) FSM Wrestlers, Mr. Serino Matheus (Chuuk, FSM) who is currently training in Palau and attending Palau Community College (PCC) and Mr. David Salapwa (Yap, FSM) who traveled out of Yap to join the team. Their travel was provided by their FSM NOC.
Before arrivingin Apia, Samoa we had to travel to American Samoa before catching the small interisland flight to Apia, Samoa. During that time, we were greeted by Mapu Jamias and Ethan Lake. Our team stayed at Maliumai Motel near the airport. We were able to do some runs/training at the track near Tafuna High School. In the afternoon, we were able to train with A. Samoa's team at the gym.
Once we arrived at the airport, we were greeted by the organizing committee and went to Tusitala (Kitano) Hotel.
On February 25th, the Oceania Annual Meeting took place at the Multi-Sports Complex Gymnasium (Tuinaimato), the site for the weigh-in and competitions and the meeting continued on the 26th with the elections. I was re-elected as President for the next 4 years. Guam withdrew from hosting 2010 Oceania so Samoa agreed to host the 2010 Oceania Championships after receiving support from the Prime Minister and government.
Our team was able to practice in the afternoon. Once again, I attended the referees course from 9:00 – 12:00pm. As of right now Palau has one international referee which is myself and with the changes to the new rules, it's important that we incorporate those rules in our training and preparations for the competitions.
The medical and weigh in's took place on February 26th for Greco roman and freestyle.
The team trained at 9:00am in the morning and in the afternoon, it was just cutting weight at 3:00pm till the medical / weigh-in's. Everyone made their weight.
On Feb. 27th, the opening ceremony began at 8:00am. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi welcomed all the athletes and participants and opened the games. The matches started at 9:00am for Greco Roman.
Elgin Elwais beat Iki Eke Roma of Samoa in the 60kg weight class to take the gold medal in Greco Roman, Gold Medal in the freestyle weight division. Elgin decided that he would go up and compete at the next weight class. He looked very strong and since he was competing and training hard in the USA at Lassen College we decided that it would be okay and he performed very well.
Radley Umang (Greco Roman - 63kg Cadet and 60 kg Junior Division) Radley Umang competed in the Cadet and Junior Divsion Freestyle and Greco Roman. In the Greco Roman competition, Radley won the gold medal in the Cadet weight division and silver in the junior division after wrestling a tough match against Samoa. This was Radley’s first time to compete in any competition and he did extremely well.
The 66kg Greco Roman was a very tough weight class. Franson Gibbons wrestled Vai Tausoa of American Samoa and Viliamu Fualau of Samoa and won both matches. In the finals, Franson wrestled exceptionally well but lost to Daniel Gravatt of New Zealand.
Jarvis Blesam Tarkong (Greco Roman 46kg Cadets and 50kg Juniors Division) Blesam, our youngest wrestler, won the Greco Roman match in the Cadet’s 46kg weight class against 4 of Samoa’s wrestlers. Blesam pinned his opponent Shane Iakopo in the finals. Blesam won two gold medals in the Cadet and Junior Greco Roman Style on the first day. Although Blesam was too young to wrestle in the Junior Division, we were able to throw him up into that weight class.
Florian Skilang competed against Anthony Isia of Samoa in the finals for the 120kg freestyle heavy weight division to win the gold medal for Palau. Skilang also beat Lotovale Meavao of American Samoa and Siolo Misa.
On February 28, 2009, the freestyle competitions were held for cadets, juniors and senior males and females. The Beach Wrestling competitions were also held.
Elgin won the gold medal against his opponents from Samoa and FSM. Elgin also went on to win the Beach wrestling for the light weight division.
Blesam Tarkong went on to compete in the freestyle events on Saturday. Blesam won the silver medal in the Junior Division after losing to Australia. In the 46kg class for the cadets, the officials made a mistake and did not include him in the lineup against the other 46kg wrestlers from Samoa. He would have won gold against two of Samoa’s cadet wrestlers in freestyle if he wrestled them but the officials made a mistake and did not place him in the Cadet’s until it was too late.
In the finals, Samantha Rechelluul won gold medal in the Junior Division for Female Wrestling against Mary Opeloge of Samoa. Samantha later wrestled Australia’s Emma Chalmers in the Senior Division but lost the match against Australia to place 2nd in the senior female weight division.
In the freestyle competition, Radley won the gold medal in the Cadet 63kg weight division and silver in the 60kg junior division after wrestling a tough match against Samoa.
During the Freestyle matches Franson lost to New Zealand to place 2nd and won silver. Samoa placed 3rd. Franson would have won the match but during the last 10 seconds of the match NZ was able to score on Franson for the win. Franson was very strong and dominated his opponents. However, I think it was the new rules that confused him during the match and because of that it affected his performance and thinking during the competition.
Florian Skilang Temengil competed against Anthony Isia of Samoa in the finals for the 120kg freestyle heavy weight division to win the gold medal for Palau. Skilang also beat Lotovale Meavao of American Samoa and Siolo Misa.
Beach Wrestling (February 28, 2009)
Immediately after the freestyle competitions and awards ceremony, the teams were transported to the Beach Wrestling Competition Venue.
Elgin was awarded the Best Male Wrestler for the 2009 Oceania Championships. Team Palau received a trophy for the “Best Beach Wrestling Team” after Elgin won the light weight Division (gold) and Skilang Temengiil beat Samoa in the Finals to win the heavy weight (gold). It was Palau’s team that beat Samoa, American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Solomons, FSM in Beach Wrestling. At the end, it was the champion of the light weight versus the champion of the heavyweight, Elgin vs. Skilang, for the prize of $100 and Skilang overpowered Elgin to win overall 1st place and the $100 Prize.
It should be noted that we also had Beach Wrestling for the Female Wrestlers and the winner was from Samoa. Personally, I think Beach Wrestling for male and females wrestlers will grow in popularity over time.
Overall, Palau arrived in Apia, Samoa with 6 wrestlers entering the competitions and dominated the Oceania’s for the first time. Overall, the competitions were real tough and the total number of medals included gold – Blesam (2 gold, 1 silver); Radley Umang (2 gold, 2 silver); Samantha Rechelluul (1 gold, 1 silver); Franson Gibbons (2 silver); Elgin Elwais (3 gold, 1 silver-Overall Beach Wrestling); Florian Skilang Temengil (3 gold). The official results are also attached for your review.
Elgin, Franson and Skilang were the team captains and coaches. With their experience, Egin lead the team in their practices and coaching with the help of Franson and Skilang. This approach worked well for us during the competitions and training in Samoa.
I was happy with the overall performance of our team this year. They practiced hard and I think many were surprised to see our young wrestlers do very well. Elgin and Skilang showed that they have improved since the Beijing Olympics and I think this is mainly due to the fact that they are wrestling in the USA Colleges. I hope that we can continue to focus on our athletes especially now that we also have many young and new wrestlers in our program. I also hope that we can also target one (1) of our female wrestlers, Samantha Rechelluul, who has practiced very hard and won gold at the Oceania Championships.
Next year, we will have the Youth Olympic Qualifications at the 2009 Oceania Championships. We hope to qualify our athletes and since returning back to Palau, we have been practicing very hard to do so.
I want to thank you and PNOC, FILA, our major sponsor WCTC and other sponsors for your strong support. Without your help, our athletes would not have been able to compete and represent Palau. I would also like to thank the Samoa Wrestling Association and Organiizing Committee for being a wonderful host and organizer for the tournament.