Niue netballers create Pacific Games history with first win

Photo: Paul Fefera/Pacific Games News Service

Niue netballers created history on the court after picking up their first ever win at a Pacific Games at Honiara’s Friendship Hall on Wednesday.

As Sol2023’s netball event entered its third day of competition, Niue were the day’s happiest winners. Absent from the Games for the past two decades, the ladies in yellow defied all odds in defeating Vanuatu 59-28.

After a slow start to Sol2023, which saw them drop points against Tonga and Samoa, Niue started off day three with much composure and determination and it paid off in sweet victory.

Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, Niue team manager, Malama Rex Melagi, was full of praise for her team, adding that the win and creating history for their country made her and the team proud.

“The girls were outstanding. They did what we asked to do, and they did it with urgency and effort. It’s a brand new team we have, and we haven’t played at the Pacific Games in 20 years. Our coach used to play in our world cup team 20 years ago – for the girls, it’s their first.”

Netball continues with semi-finals set to begin on Friday.

Touch rugby

Samoa dethroned Papua New Guinea (PNG) as champions in both men’s and women’s Sol2023 Pacific Games touch rugby tournaments on Wednesday, defeating PNG in both gold medal matches at DC Park.

As finalists after the two-day round-robin in the men’s event, Samoa and PNG fought it out, with Samoa snatching the title from the defending champions with only a point difference, 6-5. Fiji retained the bronze medal they won at Samoa 2019 after defeating Niue in the bronze medal match.

The women’s gold medal match was also tough, as Samoa and PNG remained all square 6-6 at full time. Samoa managed to run past the try line in the added extra time, giving them the gold medal win. Fiji again settled for bronze after defeating Cook Islands by 7 points.

Samoa’s team captain, Charlize Fleming, told the Pacific Games News Service: “We came here to play our hardest, and we lost to PNG in the round-robin, but we won today for the people of Samoa, whom we represent.”

Tennis

Papua New Guinea (PNG) won the Sol2023 Pacific Games tennis mixed doubles competition on Wednesday at Honiara’s National Tennis Centre.

PNG’s Abigail Tere-Apisah and Mathew Stubbings claimed the coveted mixed doubles title they let slip four years ago in Samoa, defeating Tahiti’s pairing of Mehetia Boodisie and Antoine Vosin in straight sets (6-3, 6-0) in Wednesday’s gold medal match.

Cheered on by the PNG community in Honiara, the pair powered home in the final set without losing a point and gaining sweet victory, sparking widespread celebrations on court six at the National Tennis Centre.

The pair credited the massive home support they received, which helped give them the edge in winning today’s final – trading their Samoa 2019 silver medal for gold this time round.

“I am just really so happy with today’s win. It is even sweeter that we have managed to go one better than we did four years ago, losing in the final of this event. It is always really special to win a medal, let alone win gold for your country. I am indeed grateful for the support, especially having my partner and son here with me – so it is extra special for me,” Tere-Apisah said.

Track

Papua New Guinea’s trio of Benjamin Aliel, Daniel Baul and Emmanuel Wanga won all the medals available in the men’s 400 metre final at the Sol2023 Pacific Games on Wednesday night.

On a cool evening at the National Stadium, the three Papua New Guineans wrote another chapter in the history of their nation dominating this event when they stormed the finish line in style, claiming all three available medals.

Just four hundredths of a second separated gold medallist Aliel (47.17 seconds) and silver medallist Baul (47.21 seconds), while Wanga settled for third in 48.43 seconds against the backdrop of a rapturous, cheering crowd.

There were scenes of joy after the race in which an ecstatic pair of Aliel and Wanga could hardly express their delight when asked by the media.

“First of all, we want to thank God for this opportunity in representing our country. We are so proud to come out and give our best. We say thank you to our families back home and our coaches who gave us the opportunity,” an exhausted Wanga said between breaths.

Field

The Sol2023 Pacific Games women’s high jump final was larger than life at Honiara’s National Stadium on Wednesday night, as 15-year-old Teanavai Perez from Tahiti leapt to gold at a height of 1.63 metres.

Not far below was Papua New Guinea’s Rellie Kaputin, who claimed silver on 1.60 metres (with three fouls). Fiji’s Laisani Hacere achieved the same height, but her additional foul left her to settle for bronze.

The Oceania record in the women’s high jump still stands, having been set at 2.03m by Australia’s Nicola Olyslagers in September 2023.

Rose Vandegou of New Caledonia will continue her reign as the women’s javelin ambulant champion of the Pacific after securing gold with a spring in her step at Sol2023 on Wednesday, one day after being crowned the women’s 100m ambulant Pacific sprint queen on Tuesday.

Vandegou claimed this win comfortably at Honiara’s National Stadium with a placing percentage difference of more than 20 per cent between her gold medal and the silver and bronze medallists. Her final throw distance of 25.45 metres secured her final placing percentage of 88.67 against her F41 classification for gold.

Matheo Lada of Tahiti leapt higher than anyone else at a sun-drenched National Stadium on Wednesday to claim gold in the men’s pole vault at the Sol2023 Pacific Games.

He won with a height of 4.70 metres. Two New Caledonian athletes were next best, each jumping 4.30 metres. Eric Reuillard, who was the defending champion this event, claimed silver, while his fellow countryman Vadim Strougar settled for bronze.

Nu’u Tuilefano of Samoa added to her Sol2023 Pacific Games women’s hammer throw gold medal by also claiming gold in the women’s discus at Honiara’s National Stadium on Wednesday night.

A massive 49.07 metre throw secured her top spot on the podium. New Caledonia’s Lesly Filituulaga won silver with a 47.49m throw while Fiji’s Brienna Rabakewa took bronze with a throw of 42.57m.

The discus throw event was contested by 13 participants on the first three attempts and, out of the 13, the top eight throwers made it to the last three attempts to contest medals.

“This is my second Pacific Games, and I am amazed with my result here compared to my last Pacific Games, where I think I came fifth,” gold medallist Tuilefano told the Pacific Games News Service. “I just want to give praise and thanks to God. This journey has not been easy but to this moment I have worked hard to get in this position, and it is not easy, but it was through hard work, dedication and patience.”

Meanwhile, New Caledonia’s Nils Poppe successfully defended New Caledonia’s claim on gold in the men’s 7.26kg hammer throw at the Sol2023 Pacific Games at Honiara’s National Stadium on Wednesday.

Poppe’s victory came as no surprise to those who witnessed his exceptional performance, unleashing a best throw of 52.65 metres to secure his place at the top of the podium.

Competing against a field of seven formidable opponents, Poppe’s main competition came from Tahiti’s Maitoa Pito, who clinched the silver medal with a throw of 45.93m. Samoa’s Nathaniel Sulupo displayed remarkable skill, earning the bronze with a throw measuring 42.77m.

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