Australia has ruled the Pacific Games ‘blue ribbon’ events after claiming gold meals in the men’s and women’s 100 metre finals at 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara on Tuesday evening.
Georgia Harris crossed the finish line in 11.7 seconds at the National Stadium, to claim gold in the women’s final ahead of Papua New Guinea’s Asila Apkup and Guam’s Regine Tugade-Watson.
Her countryman Calab Law clocked 10.4s in the men’s final and finished ahead of fellow Australian Lachlan Kennedy.
Law took control from the start to beat his mate Kennedy, who had to settle for silver with a time of 10.49s. Finishing behind him for bronze was Johnny Key of Samoa in 10.72s.
“It means a lot to come here and be able to run well,” Law told the Pacific Games News Service.
Samoa’s Key told the Service he was happy to have won bronze and looks forward to more Games competition in the future.
“This is just the beginning of me competing in the Pacific Games,” he said.
“I will work hard and want to be the fastest man in the Pacific in four years’ time.”
Australia is also expected to dominate the 200m event, which will start with preliminary races on Wednesday.
The duo have created history by winning gold, more so in claiming the blue ribbon previously dominated by Fiji in the men’s and PNG in the women’s events.
Fiji had previously dominated the men’s 100m and 200m since the 1995 Games.
The women’s competition had been dominated by PNG’s Toea Wisil, who also won gold medals at the 2015 and 2019 Games.
On Tuesday, it was Australia who dominated both finals.
Twenty year old Harris had dominated the heats and semi-finals before claiming the final.
The athletes are expected to be in action again when the 200m preliminaries are held on Wednesday.
Fiji’s Bulai wins hammer throw
Fiji’s Deborah Bulai won gold in the women’s 4- kilogram hammer throw.
She threw the hammer 58.33 metres, more than four metres further than her closest rival – New Zealand’s Elizabeth Hewitt.
Hewitt recorded a throw of 53.79m while bronze medallist, Wallis and Futuna’s Aneymone Talalua, threw 53.68m.
“This is the furthest I’ve ever thrown, so I’m really, really happy about it,” Bulai told the Pacific Games News Service.
“It honestly means a lot.
“I wasn’t just competing for myself – I was competing for my family; I was competing for my country; I was competing for my coach and also my friends.
“So, it was just a completely different feeling to what I’m used to.”
The 24-year-old revealed she began her career with discus but switched to hammer throw while studying in the USA.
“If you’re in the (US) collegiate system, which I ended up getting a scholarship for, to go to college and compete, you have to throw hammer,” she said.
“So I just picked it up and surprisingly I just got good at it. And so that’s why I switched.”
PNG’s Ifa wins decathlon gold
Papua New Guinea’s Karo Iga is the Pacific Games men’s decathlon champion.
The PNG athlete came first in six out of the 10 track and field events held over two days from Monday.
The silver medal went to French Polynesia’s Timona Poareu, who tied with Karo in the pole vault and beat him in the shot put, 110m hurdles and discus throw.
New Zealand’s Stephen Thorpe won bronze with his best event being the 1500m race.
Australia’s Scerri claims heptathlon
Australia’s Mia Scerri claimed the women’s heptathlon title.
Scerri placed first in four out of the seven track and field events held over two days in Honiara.
Papua New Guinea’s Edna Boafob earned silver, beating Scerri in the 200m sprint and the javelin throw.
In bronze position was French Polynesia’s Timeri Lamorelle, who won the 800m race.
Hosts beat Fiji to get to men’s football final
Solomon Islands’ men’s football team has qualified for the Pacific Games final for the first time in 12 years.
The hosts beat Fiji 2-0 in their semi-final match on Tuesday afternoon at the Lawson Tama Stadium, in front of a sea of adoring fans.
Raphael Lea’ai scored from the penalty spot to give the hosts a 1-0 lead before local star Micah Lealafa scored the winner from in front of the net, flicking the ball past the goalkeeper.
Lea’alafa said they will need to dig deep if they want to create history at the National Stadium in Honiara on Saturday.
“Well it’s going to be a tough one and we have to come out strong if we want to win the world,” he told RNZ Pacific.
“We have to push; we have to give everything in the final game.
“So it’s going to be a hard game for us.
“I believe the boys will come out strong and give everything for this country.”
Solomon Islands have been to three Pacific Games football finals but have never won.
Their final opponents New Caledonia, who beat Vanuatu 1-0 in the first semi-final match, are an old nemesis.
The Cagous beat the Bonitos the last time they reached the finals, in 2011 in Noumea.
Meanwhile, Fiji coach Rob Sherman said he is pleased with the way his team performed in the semi-final despite losing 2-0 to the Solomons.
Fiji controlled the tempo for much of the game, forcing Solomon Islands to play mostly on the counterattack, but the Fijians were unable to convert in front of goal.
In the end ill-discipline saw them reduced to 10 men with Filipe Bara ilala sent off after a second yellow card.
Sherman said all things considered, he is proud of the boys.
“I thought we dominated them to be honest,” he said.
“We controlled the tempo of the game with and without the ball.
“They were dangerous on the break and that was evident with the goal at the end, and the penalty perhaps to a degree.
“But I would say, by and large, I was very pleased with our tactical footprint and the boys have improved in that end and there is definitely room to manoeuvre.”
Fiji will face Vanuatu in the play off for bronze at 3pm local time on Friday, at the Lawson Tama Stadium.
The grand final between Solomon Islands and New Caledonia will be at the National Stadium on Saturday at 10am, Solomons time.
All-Melanesian final in women’s football
It will be an all Melanesian final for the women’s football competition.
The defending champions Papua New Guinea thrashed Samoa 5-1 on Mondayin the semifinal.
Fiji beat New Caledonia 3-0 in the other semifinal to continue their winning form, having earlier eliminated the hosts Solomon Islands from the tournament in front of their home fans.
The final will be played at the National Stadium in Honiara on Friday.
Pearls and Tala unbeaten in netball
Tonga continued their winning run from Monday as they recorded their third straight netball win.
The Tala, silver medallists at the 2019 Games in Apia, thrashed Vanuatu 106-11.
They lead Pool A at the moment, as defending netball champions Cook Islands recorded mixed results on the courts on Tuesday.
Cook Islands claimed a big 72-18 victory over Niue, but then lost to Papua New Guinea 67-37.
The win gives PNG some breathing space after they had lost to Tonga on Monday.
Fiji leads Pool B with a strong win against Samoa, 62-40, adding to their Monday win over the Solomon islands.
Norfolk Island secured its first victory of the Games, defeating Solomon Islands 40-34.
Norfolk captain Emily Ryves told the Games News Service they were happy to have come out victors and avenge their loss to the hosts four years ago.
“This is our second game here and we are so lucky to get the win,” she said.
“It was a hardcore battle against a very good Solomon Islands side.
“Four years ago in Samoa, Solomon Islands defeated us so it is indeed good to get the win today.”
Netball continues on Wednesday at the Friendship Hall.
Touch competition heats up
In touch rugby, defending champions Papua New Guinea recorded mixed results.
PNG are defending both the men’s and women’s titles.
The PNG men drew 2-2 with Samoa but beat Niue 5-1.
In the women’s division, PNG drew 4-4 with Fiji before edging past Samoa 3-2 in their second game.
The Solomon Islands men lost 12-5 to Fiji and then got pipped by Norfolk Island 7-6.
The Fiji men’s team recorded their second win on Tuesday by beating Niue 8-5.
Cook Islands proved to be a tough contender in the men’s event as they beat Kiribati 9-2 and drew with Norfolk Island 4-4 in the play-offs.
Touch rugby continues on Wednesday with qualifying and medal matches, before the mixed tournament begins on Thursday.
Beach volleyball top seeds in good wins
The top seeds at the Games’ beach volleyball competition showed why they are at the top in the region with winning starts.
Vanuatu’s women defeated Tuvalu 2-0, while in the men’s, Australia defeated New Caledonia 2-0.
Vanuatu’s Sherysyn Toko, playing alongside Majabelle Lawac, told the Pacific Games News Service the win was a good start.
“We are so happy,” she said.
“This is our first match and to get off with a win is just amazing.
“We have only played together the last two years and so far things are coming into place.
“We look forward to the [rest of] competition and we will do our best to defend our titles.”
The day’s other results saw straight set victories (2-0) for the Solomon Islands’ men’s team over Marshall Islands, Tahiti over Samoa, Fiji over Papua New Guinea, and Palau over Tuvalu.
Pool matches continue on Wednesday.