Solomon Islands Taekwondo bags 14 medals

Photo: Lawrence Ale/Pacific Games News Service

Solomon Islands World Taekwondo Union (SIWTU) has written ‘history in the stars’ for winning the first ever Pacific Games Gold medal for men in this code of combat sports.

Following Isaac Myrie’s triumph, securing a gold medal in the 54kg category, the Solomon Islands Team Taekwondo, comprising both men and women, achieved a remarkable feat by bagging a total of 14 medals in the XVII Pacific Games 2023.

The men’s Taekwondo team from Solomon Islands secured one gold, four silver, and two bronze medals, while their female counterparts clinched one silver and six bronze medals.

Notably, the only gold medal previously won by the Solomon Islands Team Taekwondo in such competitions was by the women’s team in the 2003 South Pacific Games held in Suva, Fiji.

Acknowledging the recent success achieved through dedication and determination, SIWTU Head Coach Junior Maetia expressed gratitude to God and the entire team for their meticulous preparation. He extended appreciation to families, friends, supporters, the SIWTU federation, and everyone backing Team Taekwondo in the XVII Pacific Games.

The Solomon Islands Team Taekwondo medals at the XVII Pacific Games 2023 are from;

  • Isaac Myrie (Gold Medal) competing under 54kg Category
  • Jarmin Scotaz (Silver Medal) competing under 57kg Category
  • Nicholas Sulumae (Silver Medal) competing under 68kg Category
  • Charlton Alafa (Silver Medal) competing under 87+kg Category
  • Baddely Ludawane (Bronze Medal) competing under 74kg Category
  • Rojie Fafale (Bronze Medal) competing under 87kg Category
  • Team Taekwondo men’s Team Event (Silver medal) 
  • Erika Maetia (Silver medal) competing under 53kg Category
  • Shandrea Nuala (Bronze medal) competing under 46kg Category
  • Tenalyn Rove (Bronze medal) competing under 49kg Category
  • Curthberta Kae (Bronze medal) competing under 62kg Category
  • Stella Lisa (Bronze medal) competing under 67kg Category
  • Moddie Foufaka (Bronze medal) competing under 73kg Category
  • Taekwondo women’s ‘Team Event’ (Bronze medal)

Tennis

Tennis has created history for Team Fiji by winning its first Pacific Games gold. Fiji’s tennis teams have been winning medals over the years but not gold. Storm Cornish and William O’Connell won gold in the men’s doubles. The pair beat Tuvalu in two straight sets.

Fiji took out the first set 7-5 and second 6-2.

Veteran McConnell says he came up short in the Mini Games in Saipan but he’s glad they managed to do something special. “For me personally to get over the hurdle is very special and then for Fiji tennis I think it’s a milestone and this proves that we can do great things coming from Fiji on the tennis courts.”

Papua New Guinea 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.

“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

Yeshnil Karan of Fiji added the men’s 5,000m gold to his Sol2023 men’s 10,000m gold at Honiara’s National Stadium on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old finished with a time of 15 minutes and 14.89 seconds, just ahead of Tahiti’s Benjamin Zorgnotti (15:18.92). Papua New Guinea’s Siune Kagl claimed bronze in 15:30.02.

“I want to thank my training partners, my coach and my parents in Fiji for this win,” Karan told the Pacific Games News Service. He revealed that he had been training on Australia’s Gold Coast prior to the Pacific Games, which had helped him a lot with his performances.

New Zealand’s Tillie Hollyer and Peyton Leigh claimed the top two spots on the podium in the Sol2023 Pacific Games women’s 1500 metre race at Honiara’s National Stadium on Thursday.

The duo picked up in the women’s 1500m where they had left off in the women’s 800m on Tuesday, again claiming gold and silver for their country.

Hollyer, with a spectacular performance, secured the gold medal with a remarkable time of 4:26.06. Not only did she clinch gold, but Hollyer also engraved her name in the record books by setting a new Pacific Games record. The previous record of 4:29.30 (set by Nadia Prasad of New Caledonia back at the Tahiti 1995 Pacific Games) now stands surpassed, as Hollyer’s exceptional run left a lasting mark on the event.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) powered to gold in the men’s 4 x 400m relay at the Sol2023 Pacific Games on Thursday night in a closely contested final at Honiara’s National Stadium.

Although PNG led throughout, Fiji were never far behind, and it was tight until the final stretches.

PNG’s team of Daniel Baul, Emmanuel Wanga, Adolf Kauba and Benjamin Aliel finished in 3 minutes, 13.53 seconds to claim gold.

PNG’s second runner Wanga, who along with Baul and Aliel won at Samoa 2019, said his team had been expecting to defend their title.  “I’d like to thank God for the opportunity to represent my country. Three of us were part of the team (in Samoa), it has been a long journey, but we’re just doing it for the country,” said Wanga.

Meanwhile, New Zealand enjoyed gold and silver success in the men’s 1500m run, courtesy of Jack Paine and Liam O’Donnell respectively, in hot and humid conditions at the Sol2023 Pacific Games on Thursday.

Paine had a comfortable victory, setting the pace of the race from the moment the gun went off and maintaining a clear lead until he crossed the finish line. His winning time, 3 minutes and 50.97 seconds saw him run away with the Sol2023 Pacific Games men’s 1500m gold medal.

O’Donnell finished in 3:56.61, just a fraction ahead of Alex Beddoes of Cook Islands, who crossed the line in 3:56.88 to claim bronze.

Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, Paine alluded to missing out on gold in the 800m run as his motivation for this victory.

“I’m ecstatic. I came out in the 800m and got silver, which was great, but I was hungry, so I really came out here with a plan to execute – come out, make sure I hit my splits really hard, and I was lucky enough to do that today in these really difficult conditions actually,” said Paine.

Field

Vanuatu’s Elie Enock had double celebrations at Honiara’s National Stadium on Thursday after winning her country’s third gold medal at the Sol2023 Pacific Games and earning herself a likely qualification for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in the women’s shot put secured throw.

The Ni-Vanuatu athlete cheered enthusiastically as the technical official called out 7.84 metres, the distance Enock threw in her first attempt, calling out to her coach, “yes, I qualified!” with excitement.

The qualifying distance for Paris 2024 is 7 metres, which Enock surpassed at Sol2023.

The throw of 7.84m secured a placing percentage of 70.25 per cent against her F57 classification, the highest in the event, and the gold medal winning performance at Sol2023.

“This is one of my goals, I’ve been aiming for it, so I am just so happy and super excited. When I went out onto the field, I just wanted to do my best because I came here just wanting to qualify for the Paralympics next year,” Enock said.

Meanwhile, the national anthem of Wallis and Futuna rung out across Honiara’s National Stadium on Thursday night as two of their athletes stood on the podium for the Sol2023 Pacific Games men’s discus throw.

From a 12-man field of competitors, the two men threw furthest and strongest.

Stephen Mailagi took out the gold medal with a whopping throw of 48.69 metres. His fellow countryman Tapuakitau Lakalaka threw 47.20m for silver, while bronze was awarded to Samoa’s Nathaniel Sulupo, who threw 46.72m.

Powerlifting

Nauru continued to dominate the Sol2023 powerliftig podium at Maranatha Hall on Thursday as the sport reached its final rounds for men in the 93kg, 105kg, 120kg, and 120 kg+ events.

Nauru’s Jesse Roland took home gold in the men’s raw 93kg final session 5 with a total lift of 735kg. Axel Michel Raymond of New Caledonia received silver with a total lift of 710 kg, and Manutea Ozoux of Tahiti settled for bronze with 695kg.

Nauru’s additional gold was raked in by Roy Detabene in the 105kg event with a sweeping lift of 790kg. Fiji’s Salacieli Tamanitadruku hit silver with a total of 702.5 kg, while Tahitian athlete Matahi Tinorupua Papai took bronze with a 675kg mark.

Barassi Bottelanga of Nauru again snatched gold in session 6 of the 120kg event with a total lift of 780kg. Fiji’s Kurt Wise took silver with a total of 682kg, and Solomon Islands’ Michael Maomaiasi claimed bronze with a total lift of 657kg.

The heavy weights (120 kg+) were defeated by Oliva Kirisome of Samoa with an impressive lift of 885kg. American Samoa’s Justin Joseph Pedro and John Faleomalama claimed silver and bronze, respectively.

Thursday’s final powerlifting events also marked the conclusion of Sol2023 action at Maranatha Hall.

Kayak

Tahiti’s kayakers again paddled away with gold and silver medals during Thursday’s Sol2023 Pacific Games marathon races at DC Park.

The women’s K2-16km marathon race saw the Tahiti duo add another gold, making history for their kayaking team at the Pacific Games. They have won gold in the women’s K1-500m and K2-500m.

“I’m very happy and proud of my girls and the team for the win today,” Iloha Eychenne told the Pacific Games News Service. “Though the race is bumpy with lots of waves and strong wind, it’s a nice race indeed,” Tahiti’s golden paddler added.

In the men’s K2-16km marathon race, New Caledonia took home a gold medal with a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes, and 20 seconds.

“I’m really happy for the first time that kayak is contested at the Pacific Games. Thank you to Solomon Islands for the great competition,” gold medalist Benjamin Legavre of New Caledonia said after their successful campaign in the kayak competition.

Triathlon

In a clean sweep, Tahiti dominated the Sol2023 triathlon event on Thursday by claiming gold and silver in both the men’s and women’s divisions in Honiara.

And it was third time lucky for Tahiti’s Salome De Barthez De Marmorieres in her third Pacific Games triathlon, securing gold with a time of 32 minutes and 51 seconds. Her Tahiti teammate, fellow up-and-coming national triathlete, Maidi Susset, finished in 33:37 to claim silver and New Caledonia’s Celine Hirzel secured the third-place finish with a time of 34:29.

After her gold medal-winning performance, De Barthez De Marmorieres told the Pacific Games News Service: “I am very happy because eight years (at Port Moresby 2015) ago I did the Pacific Games triathlon, and I got a flat tyre (on the bike). Four years ago, at Samoa 2019 I came second behind someone who was better. And today, I’m very happy to win gold and I think I deserve it. For me, it was gold or nothing today.”

In the men’s final, Benjamin Zorgnotti from Tahiti successfully defended his Samoa 2019 gold medal, finishing with an impressive time of 29:26. In second place and bagging the silver was fellow countryman Jean Marc Rimaud with a time of 29:37, while the bronze went to New Caledonia’s Mathieu Szalamacha with a time of 30:31.

Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, the seasoned Zorgnotti said: “Honestly, I was expecting the gold medal as I won four years ago, and I was the only professional out in the field. However, I was not as comfortable racing because of the heat.” 

When asked if he had been thinking of setting a new personal best, the French Polynesian triathlete said: “No, I wasn’t running as fast as possible. It was more important for me to bring Jean Marc (Rimaud) as far as possible after the cycling so we could win gold and silver together.”

Among the finishers was sixth-placed Christian Rokoua from Fiji, a debutant in the race. When asked how he felt racing with the best in the region, Rokoua said: “This was a good experience as I just started participating in the sport two years ago.”

Rokoua also shared his aim to represent Fiji in the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games, stating that it was his grandmother who inspired him to take up the sport.

The individual triathlon races have now concluded.

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