As the Commonwealth Games begin, teams from the Pacific Islands are settling into their accommodation in the Birmingham 2022 Games village and are preparing to compete for the next 12 days. It’s a very long way from home and acclimatising to the British weather was top priority ahead of the event.
The team from the island nation of Tuvalu is grateful to be part of this year’s Commonwealth Games especially as they rarely get the opportunity to compete in high level sporting events.
Tuvalu’s National Olympic Commitee secretary general, Elu Tataua, who is accompanying the country’s six athletes to England, said it’s a privilege to take part.
“It means a lot to all us, coming from a very small country to compete in the bigger stage like the Commonwealth Games. It’s a dream for our athletes to compete at a higher level. They have trained all this time, so I think it means a lot to us.”
Tuvalu has high hopes for its athletes particulary the men’s beach volleyball team that won bronze in the recent Pacific Mini Games in the Northern Marianas.
“We have the beach volleyball boys who got bronze during the Pacific Mini Games who have trained really hard. They had training camps in Australia and had a few competitions in Bangkok recently. We’re not just going there for the participation, we aim to go there and compete, and show them that we have very talented athletes that can compete at a bigger stage”
“The main message we give our athletes in their preparation, is to give their best and their all, because even if they don’t win, but showing that they give their full potential that’s the best thing to know in sport. We always encourage them”, added Tataua.
Tuvalu is represented by:
Karalo Maibuca (Men’s 100 metres)
Temalini Manatoa (Women’s 100 metres)
Saaga Malosa (Men’s beach volleyball)
Ampex Isaac (Men’s beach volleyball)
Fiu Tui (Men’s boxing middleweight)
Leatialii Afoa (Men’s boxing light-heavyweight)
The team from Vanuatu is made up of strong 17 athletes who will look to test themselves against some of the world’s best.
Although most of the team has little or no international experience outside of the Pacific Mini-Games, team Vanuatu remains adamant and hope to compete well in Birmingham.
The country’s star athlete and medal prospect is beach volleyballer Miller Pata, who won a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
She won that medal with Linline Matauatu just seven months after giving birth to her son Tommy.
This year Pata is teamed with Shersyn Toko, with the beach volleyball event being held at a makeshift court in a regenerated part of the centre of Birmingham, England.
Like their fellow Pacific Islands counterparts, team Vanuatu’s preparation have been drastically hindered by COVID-19 but it was through the support of foreign aid and the Commonwealth Games Federation that allowed for their participation this year.
“With COVID-19, it makes the challenges more difficult for us due to the fact the borders are closed and we have to meet the Covid protocols for each country or for our own country. This is where it becomes more challenging,” said James Malau (Chief Executive of the Vanuatu Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee).
Vanuatu is represented by:
Obediah Timbaci (Men’s 200 and 400 Metres)
Elstrom Wanemut (Men’s High, Long and Triple Jump)
Chloe David (Women’s 100 and 200 Metres)
Ellie Enock (Women’s Shotput F57)
Miller Pata and Shersyn Toko (Women’s Beach Volleyball)
Namri Berri (Men’s Boxing – Flyweight)
Maxence Cugola (Men’s Judo -66 kg)
Joe Mahit (Men’s Judo -73 kg)
Hugo Cumbo (Men’s Judo -81 kg)
Marius Metois (Men’s Judo -90 kg)
Veronica Tari (Women’s Judo -48 kg)
Mariel Kalomor (Women’s Judo -52 kg)
Roanna Abel (Womens Table Tennis)
Tracey Mawa (Womens Table Tennis)
Stephanie Qwea (Womens Table Tennis)
Ajah Pritchard-Lolo (Women’s Weightlifting 87 kg
Papua New Guinea
Team Papua New Guinea have been called upon to be symbols of hope and positivity for the country during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom.
Speaking to the team in the Games Village in Birmingham, chef de mission Michael Henao reminded the athletes, officials and management team about the importance of their campaign.
“Our country is going through one of the most challenging general elections since Independence in 1975. Yet you are here, having earned your spot in Team PNG, showing Papua New Guineans and the World about what we can achieve as a nation if we commit ourselves to hard work and strive for success”, Henao said.
Since arriving into Birmingham, Team PNG has hit the ground running, going straight into training in preparations for their respective events.
Champion weightlifter Dika Toua is among the PNG ranks as she searches for another Commonwealth Games victory.
“My aim is to do my best and hopefully win a medal – that is the number one priority going into this competition. Whether I win silver or a gold medal, it doesn’t matter, the biggest thing is winning and making my family and the nation proud of my achievement”, Toua said.
Team PNG will compete in athletics, boxing, squash, swimming, table tennis and weightlifting.
Perhaps the most successful athletes to represent Fiji are its national men’s and women’s rugby 7s teams. Both teams have staked their marks on World Rugby Sevens Series and the prestigious Olympic games making them a top medal contender in this year’s Commonwealth Games.
Coach Ben Gollings had an immense task in the selecting his men’s team and he has opted to include six Olympic Gold medallists into the squad as they gear up for the Birmingham tournament. They are; Jerry Tuwai, Waisea Nacuqu, Josua Vakurinabili, Sireli Maqala, Aminiasi Tuimaba and Semi Kunatani.
Sevuloni Mocenacagi also makes his return while World 7s Series Captain Tevita Daugunu, Elia Canakaivata, Kaminieli Rasaku, Jeremaia Matana, Filipe Sauturaga and Vuiviawa Naduvalo complete the squad.
Meanwhile, Fijiana 7s Coach Saiasi Fuli has confirmed his final 12 players for the Commonwealth Games which kicks off this weekend in Birmingham.
The team has 8 players who won a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
They include Captain Rusila Nagasau, Vasiti Solikoviti, Raijeli Daveua, Lavena Cavuru, Viniana Riwai, Sesenieli Donu, Reapi Uluinasau and Ana Naimasi.
Verenaisi Bari who made her first appearance in the Langford 7s and former ACS sprinter Laisani Moceisawana who made her debut in the Oceania 7s in June are also in the squad together with Nadroga’s Ivamere Nabura and Police speedster Vani Buleki.
The 7s action will commence from the 29 – 31 July in Birmingham.