Pacific women thrive in world of sports

PHOTO: Commonwealth Games Australia

Champion Cikamatana carry Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton

The Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay has completed its brief visit to Australia after following an itinerary from March 17-20 which paid tribute to the previous Australian cities that hosted the Games.

At Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the Baton was carried by former Fiji weightlifting champion Eileen Cikamatana, who won gold for Fiji aged 18 in Gold Coast 2018.

Cikamatana became an Australian citizen in 2019 via a “distinguished talent visa” and is set to compete for her new nation at Birmingham 2022.

“I’m happy to wear the green and gold for these Commonwealth Games, it’s a dream come true,” Cikamatana said.

“To get that opportunity to represent another country, and especially Australia, where you get respected for what you do, no words can describe the feeling of it,” she added.

Samoa weightlifters primed for Birmingham

Similarly, Samoa’s weightlifting team is ready to compete in the Commonwealth Games this July in Birmingham, United Kingdom with their coach confident of their gold medal potential.

The SWF President and Coach Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork made the announcement in an interview with the Samoa Observer on Tuesday, saying the “dream team” is ready as they have qualified six men and women weightlifters for Birmingham.

“So we have a very strong team, this is probably the strongest team we’ve taken to any Commonwealth Games and all we’re doing now is training, preparing and hopefully May or June we will start to polish up, start to ease down for the competition.”

“It’s a dream team, but it’s a dream team that have to perform, not just a dream team on the platform, now we have to produce the results in the competition.”

In 2010 Samoa had won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi and followed that up with two at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Tuaopepe also revealed that there are two teams training at the moment, with one team going to the Pacific Mini Games which will be held in Northern Marianas in June this year, and the other team to the Commonwealth Games in July. 

Gold Medalist at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Feagaiga Stowers said she is happy and it is a blessing to be able to compete in Birmingham.

“I never thought I would come back and qualify for the Commonwealth,” Stowers shared. “I feel happy and thankful to the Lord that I am able to be the female representative of our team, to carry the flag at the Commonwealth.”

Asked if she feels confident, she said that she relies on the strength from the Lord. “My advice to the young girls, in this game you have to train honestly, and be obedient, also to the rule of the training.”

Tonga takes the lead in Pacific Netball series

In other news, Tonga continues their winning streak after a brilliant 68-54 win over Fiji at the PacificAus Netball Series in Sydney.

The win pushes Tonga, the 2019 Pacific Games Netball silver medalists, on top of the standing.

Fiji was hindered early in the first quarter when centre Vaiti Waqatabu, who had a strong outing during the 55-44 win over Samoa, was carried off due to injury.

Tonga capitalised on the opportunity and after leading 18-11 at the first quarter, Tonga maintained the lead at halftime 35-22.

Both teams played hard, but ultimately Tonga bagged the win.

Fiji Pearls will face Papua New Guinea in their third match at 4.30pm FT today while Tonga will play against Samoa at 2:30pm FT tomorrow.

Sprint Queen joins Fijiana Drua

Fiji’s former women’s sprinting victors, Younis Bese and Vive Sikisawana have joined the Rooster Chicken Fijiana Drua at their training base in Gold Coast, Australia.

This was confirmed by Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer, John O’Connor, indicating the players had left for Australia.

The SOS call for their inclusion was made by head coach Senirusi Seruvakula after their 45-17 win over the Force on Saturday.

Bese received a track scholarship to the United States of America and attended William Carey University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Finance in 2020.

Upon returning to Fiji, she took up rugby and attended the Fijiana XVs trials in Suva before being included into the extended training squad.

Sikisawana plays at centre for the Marist Rugby Club and is originally from Dratabu in Nadi with her maternal links to Tailevu, Fiji. The Rooster Chicken Fijiana Drua’s biggest test is against defending Super W champions Waratahs on Friday April 1 at 8:45pm FT.