South Pacific Games 1969 - Papua New Guinea

August 13th - 23rd

Papua New Guinea still under Australian administration was the next host for the South Pacific Games. Security issues were high on the agenda for these games. After the high standards set in all facets of the 1963 Noumea games organizers had to be on their game in order to carry off the regional competition. Australia stepped in with money and expertise after early doubts about the viability of the games in PNG. The South Pacific Games Council officials were elected in Noumea after the 1966 games. The President, Treasurer and Secretary were all from PNG in order to give them the best possible chance to organize the games. David Beyer was appointed by the Games Council as a full time executive officer of the Games Trust and took office from the 1st of December, 1967. Beyer, an Australian and former RAAF Air Commodore, had previous experience in amateur sports organization. 

Andre Henry who designed the eye-catching running track merging into a Polynesian artifact for the Noumea Games also won the competition for the design of the 1969 PNG Games. His round logo featured the green, yellow and red of the PNG flag with a bird of paradise as the center holding tree leaves to symbolize the third games. Athletics, soccer, rugby union, tennis and swimming were designated as compulsory sports with other sports to be included on the basis of interest from competing countries. Australian expatriates formed the bulk of the local organizing committees and put to good use their experience from the previous  two games. The main venues were developed close to the Boroko region  of Port Moresby. Like the first two games SPG 1963 saw the development of various sporting venues and facilities. Existing facilities constructed by the Australian army were also spruced up for the games.

The games attracted great local support and many traveled great distances from the hinterlands and highlands in their colorful local costumes. Local organizers set in place a display of old and new art from the various local cultural groups and individuals.  Other territories were invited to contribute their own creations to the display. Models depicting famous local architecture of structures such as the Sepik haus tamberan and a Trobriand yam house. Nearby Ela Beach had a floodlit arena where cultural performances were held on a nightly basis. Contests were held in creating cultural artifacts as well as a schools essay and art competitions. A concerted public relations and publicity campaign stretched across the Pacific and pincluded a promotional team that visited Australia. The team used the trip to bounce ideas about the games with Australian Olympians and Olympic officials and administrators. They included Olympian Kevin Gosper who went on to be one of the main organizers for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A major coup for the games was the announcement of the Duke and Duchess of Kent to officially open the games. The glamorous royal couple proved to be a major talking point prior to the games and they did not disappoint with their down to earth presence.

PNG was ready to go for the third games with all their flamboyance and color. A more casual approach to the games was a relief for many of the island participants after the formal rigors of the 1966 games. A result of this was that the games went off without major hiccups as goodwill and commonsense prevailed over officiousness. A series of inter-territory competitions as a build-up to the games had unearthed many hopefuls and potential stars.  New Caledonia with their foundations already set in generous training aid from France once again dominated the games in most of the non-running and team sports. Fiji dominated the men's track competition with impressive performances by S. Tamani in the middle distances and Usaia Sotutu in the long distance events. Tongan Keta Iongi took out the women's sprint titles including the 80 metre hurdles and pentathlon while countryman P Tuipolutu won the 110 and 400 metres hurdles. Fiji totally outclassed all teams in the rugby competition and had cricket score wins even in the finals by 88-3 over PNG. New Caledonia and French Polynesia dominated soccer and had to only use their reserves to romp to double figure wins over the other teams. They also dominated other team sports like tennis and basketball. PNG used local knowledge to good use to win both sections of golf on a rain soaked course that saw a hole in one by John Hall from the Solomons. The new sport of yachting also went to the locals.

The outstanding overall athlete by a lap was New Caledonian swimming queen Marie-Jose Kersaudy with another seven gold medal haul at the tender age of 15.  New Caledonia won all the women's swimming events, while the PNG men's team of mostly expatriates under Australian coaching and urged on by a partisan crowd won six of the ten men's swimming events.

1969: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

New Caledonia

36

20

21

77

PNG

23

23

18

64

Fiji

13

18

25

56

French Polynesia

8

11

13

32

Tonga

6

4

2

12

Western Samoa

4

4

1

9

Wallis & Futuna

1

5

1

7

New Hebrides

1

4

3

8

Guam

1

3

2

6

Nauru

1

2

4

7

American Samoa

1

 

5

6

Solomon Islands

 

2

1

3

Total

95

96

96

287




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