ONOC Digest – Birmingham 2022

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ONOC is delivering this Digest in partnership with The Reporters’ Academy and the Pacific Islands News Association.

OCEANIA’S DAY AT THE GAMES – DAY 4

On day 4 of the Commonwealth Games our nations are continuing to make everyone in the region proud, with their determination to perform to the best of their abilities. Every single team is achieving incredible feats and we’re not even halfway through the Games yet.

Cook Islands
As the competition in the pool starts to wind down, countries are starting to reflect on their teams’ performances during the meet, and for team Cook Islands it has been an impressive competition. One of its stars is 16-year-old Lanihei Connolly, who has had a sensational debut at these Commonwealth Games and captivated the crowds at the Sandwell Aquatic Centre race after race.
In one of her favoured events, the 100m Breastroke, Lanihei made a quick start and powered down the first 50m before touching home in 1:11:90, a new national record for the Cook Islands. The impressive time meant Lanihei qualified for the semi-finals later in the evening and she was determined to lower the newly acquired national best, “I was a little nervous at the start of the race, but I’m happy with that time. I hope I can go faster tonight as it is always great to race in a semi final.”
In the semi-final later in the evening Lanihei again made history as she lowered the marker to 1:11:76.
In heat 3 of the 100m Breaststroke, Olympian Kirsten Andrea Fisher-Masters was one of the quickest off the blocks as she finished with a time of 1:15.02. Kirsten says it has been a season of ups and downs with long periods spent away from home, but she has given it all during this meet, “I left it all in the pool, overall, it has been an amazing experience and really proud that I’m just able to be here.” It isn’t just the crowd in the stadium that has been pushing the team on, Kirsten says messages from friends and family at home have been a massive lift, “it is so nice to feel all the support from everyone back home and I feel like people are really proud of us no matter what and it is really nice.”
Tomorrow will be another set of firsts for the Cook Islands as the team take part in their first ever mixed relay and it will be exciting to see how the quartet perform.

Fiji
Leamington Spa is home to the Lawn Bowls competition for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and today saw the Men’s Triples team of Martin Fong, David Aitcheson and Semesa Naiseruvati compete for a medal in the final four.
During their semi-final against Australia, it was the opposition who won the first points of the match but by end three team Fiji got on the scoreboard. The team from Fiji were unable to find momentum and were beaten 26-13, meaning they would compete for a bronze medal later in the day.
Back on the rink and Wales were the team taking on Fiji for bronze. Despite Fiji being the first team to score, it was the Welsh trio who triumphed with the score finishing 21-7.
After the match David Aitcheson said, “we had expectations to win a medal, the aim was to aim for gold, but it never happened. We ended up in the semi-final which was good, very good for our country. We haven’t ended up in the semi-final for some time now, good to end up there for our ladies and our men’s, so it’s very good.”
With a 4th place finish under their belt Martin Fong said his experience at the Games will always stay with him, “for me, this is actually my highlight of my career. To be here standing and representing Fiji in the Commonwealth Games, this is probably the highest level of bowls. For me, this is definitely the highlight, no matter where we end up.”
A key message for these Games is to help inspire the next generation and Martin says that is exactly what he will be doing, “For me, it’s my role to go back and encourage the young ones to play. It will probably change the mindset that bowls is not an old people sport, it’s actually for anybody. That’s what we hope to take back home.”
In the Women’s Fours semi-final vs South Africa, the team of Radhika Prasad, Losalini Tukai, Loreta Kotoisuva and skip Sheral Mar narrowly lost their encounter 16-14 and will be going for bronze.
Jone Davule competed in a round of 16 bouts against Tryagain Morning Ndevelo from Namibia. Unfortunately for the boxer from Fiji his match was stopped in the 3rd round and the win awarded to his opponent.
Over at the Squash Marika Matanatabu was in Men’s Singles Plate Quarter-Final action against Barbados’ Shawn Simpson. Over the course of the three set match the player from the Caribbean won in straight sets.
One of the highlights in the pool for team Fiji today was Epeli Herbert Jordan Rabua who managed a season best in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke with a time of 29.60. After the race the Fijian said, “it felt really good. My style was good the last 15m hurt, but it was the season’s best. My favourite memory of the games would be the 4 x 100m team making the finals, that was such a special moment for all of us.”

Kiribati
Team Kiribati was back in the boxing ring today as Eriu Temakau took on Scotland’s Lennon Mulligan in the 48kg-51kg flyweight division.
Across the three rounds the pair traded punch combinations and the judges scores reflected that with only a few points separating them.
At the end of the contest, it went down to the judges marks and the Scottish boxer was declared the winner.

Nauru
At only 19 years old Nancy Genzel Abouke took to the stage to make her debut at the Commonwealth Games in the Women’s 71kg Final for Nauru.
Nancy’s opening lift in the snatch section of the competition was 87kg, which she successfully cleared. This was followed by two unsuccessful tries at 90kg.
At the halfway point Nancy was joint 6th but a clean and jerk of 110kg lifted the young athlete from Nauru up to 5th place with a total of 197kg.
After her competition Nancy said, “I was nervous as it was my first Commonwealth Games, but overall, I enjoyed it. I feel like it went well.” Looking forward Nancy said, “I will train harder and win a Gold medal.”
In the Women’s 64kg Weightlifting final Bernice Detudamo was up against a packed field of 12. First up for Bernice was the snatch element, where she had one successful clearance at the weight of 60kg. During the clean and jerk Bernice had three great lifts at 75kg, 78kg and 81kg this left her with a total of 141kg.
Over at the Judo hall Isamaela Solomon went up against host nation judoka Samuel Hall.
In the bout the athlete from England scored a Waza-ari 7 seconds into the bout and as Isamaela attempted to score the crucial Ippon, his opponent was awarded another Waza-ari, ending the match as the Naura judo star exited the competition.

Niue
India’s Ashish Kumar Kumar was the opponent in the boxing ring for Niue’s Travis Tapatuetoa in the Light Heavyweight Over 75-80kg.
In an evening bout at Birmingham’s NEC arena Travis went toe to toe with his competition in the blue corner and was edged out of the first two rounds.
After some wise words from his coach, Travis came out firing in round 3 with a series of punches to make the judges take note. After the final bell, the boxer from India was declared the winner.
Travis said, “I did my best but he was just the better man today. I found he was a bit too skillful for me today.”

Norfolk Island
Heading into the Women’s Singles at the lawn bowls semi-final with a perfect record, Norfolk Island flag bearer Shae Wilson was on the centre rink, as she took on Australian Ellen Ryan for a place in the Gold medal match.
Shea says ‘I got off to a slow start, and down 9 nil, but once I lengthened the mat up a bit, got my weight right, it turned into a pretty good game. I lost it a bit and unfortunately lost the match.” The final score was 21-17.
Malaysian bowler Siti Zalina Ahmad was the opponent for Shea in the bronze medal match, and in the first end Siti managed to get four points, storming into a lead. Shea tried to get herself level but the Malaysian closed the match out to finish 21-10. A strong tournament for Shea to show the hard work she has put in on the rinks is paying off and describing her experience at the Games, Shea said, “to be able to get to a medal match as well as represent my island playing bowls was a really cool opportunity.”

Papua New Guinea
Competition started for the day in the Sandwell Aquatics Centre for team Papua New Guinea, with Georgia-Leigh Vele starting in lane 1 of the Women’s 100m Freestyle.
Georgia-Leigh started the race with a low stroke rate and built up her speed in the second 25m, as she turned at the wall the PNG swimmer kicked on and finished just outside her PB with a time of 1:01.60.
With Georgia-Leigh’s says heading into the Commonwealth Games she has tried a new approach in racing, “I’ve learned to have confidence in myself, I’m generally a nervous swimmer but I concentrated on staying calm and having fun, rather than it just being about the numbers.” The new tactics certainly seem to be paying off with some good performances in the pool.
All week Ryan Maskelyne has been putting in some impressive performances in the pool, including reaching a final on the opening day of the Games. In the Men’s 50m breaststroke today Ryan started in lane 8, hoping to beat his personal best of 29.98. After a quick start Ryan finished second with a time of 29.53, shaving over 0.4seconds off his old PB. Similar to his fellow PNG swimmer Georgia-Leigh, having fun and enjoying the race was a key tactic, “I’m more of a 200m, so the 50m is short and sharp. Getting the opportunity to swim at the C.G is really fun and I got a small PB. My coach told me to go out and have fun.”
In the boxing ring Charles Fauma Keama took on Zambia boxer Patrick Chinyemba in the Men’s Over 48kg-51kg flyweight and Allan Oaike faced Ghanian Joseph Commey in the Men’s Over 54-57kg. Despite their best efforts both PNG boxers had their contests stopped in the second round by the referee and their opponents advanced to the last 8.

Samoa
It was back in the pool for Samoan swimming Olivia Borg, who was fresh from her appearance in Samoa’s first ever semi-final. In the Women’s 100m Freestyle heat Olivia powered through the two-length race to touch the wall in first place and a PB of 57.53.
Olivia said she found her race to be solid and was pleased with the time. Commenting on her appearance in the semi-finals last night Olivia said, “I was over the moon yesterday (qualifying for the semi-final), when I found out I was stoked. Also, to be making history for Samoa, one of the first to qualify for the semi-finals.”
Samoan relay star Kokoro Frost was in the Men’s 100m Butterfly for one of his final races of the meet. Kokoro flew off the blocks with a reaction time of 0.59seconds, the fastest of the heat and he finished in 4th place with a time 1:00:53. As his competition nearly comes to an end Kokoro says “being part of the Samoan team and representing them has been an honour.”
In the Light Heavyweight Men’s 75kg-80kg category Samoan Jancen Poutoa went up against Taylor Bevan from Wales. In the first two rounds it was neck and neck on the judges’ points, however in the third round the referee stopped the contest and the Welshman won the bout.

Solomon Islands

Team Solomon Islands had no athletes compete today at the Games, tomorrow we’ll be bringing you all the action from their team competing in Boxing, Beach Volleyball, Swimming, Athletics and Judo.

Tonga
Tonga’s Commonwealth Games action today came from the Sandwell Aquatic Centre as a trio as swimmers took to the pool.
It has been a long meet for Charissa Panuve, who yesterday achieved a personal best and today she got off to an electric start in her 100m Freestyle heat, being the quickest off the block by over 0.1 seconds. Charissa touched the wall in a time of 1:05:87, coming close to her PB and she was pleased with the result, “I think I went out pretty solid and came back even better, I’m totally happy with it.” With a day off tomorrow, Charissa is back in the pool for the final day of competition in the 400m Freestyle.
Charissa wasn’t the only athlete to be pleased with their performance at their race today, Finau Ohuafi finished his Men’s 100m Butterfly heat in third place with a time of 59.45 and the tactics he used worked well, “I’m happy to do a PB. My first thought was go out hard and just see how it goes. I went out hard and coming back was hard and then my legs gave up, but I still finished.”
There was a teenager taking to one of the biggest stages on day 4 for Tonga, as 15 year old Vaoahi Afu raced in the Women’s 100m Breastroke finishing with a time of 1:29.31. The youngster spoke about her pride for racing for Tonga and there was one person that supported her throughout the entire meet, “my mum is my main inspiration because she supports me and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. After these Games I plan on going back home to study and train before coming back to win a medal.”

Tuvalu
Day 4 marked a return to the Beach Volleyball court for Saaga Malosa and Ampex Isaac, who were going head-to-head with New Zealand in their second round match.
It was the New Zealand pair of Bradley Fuller and Sam O’Dea who were the first team to get a point on the board, and in the opening stages of the match the team traded points for points. Tuvalu’s opponents then kicked on to take the opening set 21-14.
As the team headed into set 2 Saage and Ampex took the first point, before New Zealand raced into a 6-1 lead. The Tuvalu pair then dug deep to close the gap and draw level. The teams then traded points until the New Zealand pair managed to string together a few points and seal the set 21-17, hence taking the match.

Vanuatu
Today saw the introduction of Judo to these Commonwealth Games, after being excluded from the 2018 Games, the martial art has been reintroduced as a core sport. Vanuatu had 3 athletes taking to the mat at the Coventry Arena.
First up was Veronica Tari who received a bye in the first round of the Women’s -48kg and entered in the Quarter Finals, as she faced Mauritius athlete Priscilla Morand. In the sport there are two ways of scoring, the first an Ippon, which automatically ends the bout, the other method is a waza-ari, if you score two of these in the match you are declared the winner.
Despite Veronica’s best efforts to move through to the semi-finals, the athlete from Mauritius scored an Ippon after 1minute 5 seconds, meaning Veronica would move into the repechage.
In the repechage the Vanuatu athlete faced Harriet Bonface from Malawi and in a cagey start to the match, the athletes attempted to score an Ippon to move into the next round. 3 minutes 18 seconds into the match the competitor from Malawi was awarded a Waza-ari and shortly after landed another, meaning the match was finished and Veronica exited the competition.
In the Women’s -52kg, Vanuatu was represented by Mariel Kalomor who took on Scottish judoka Kirsty Marsh. Early into the match Mariel’s opponent was awarded an Ippon, sadly meaning the bout was over.
The final judoka competing for Vanuatu today was Maxence Cugola in the Men’s -66kg, taking on India’s Jasleen Singh Saini. The athlete from India was awarded an Ippon meaning Maxence exited the competition in the round of 16.
Over at the boxing ring Namri Berri stood in the blue corner as he took on India’s Amit in the Men’s 48-51kg flyweight contest. It was an encouraging performance from the boxer from Vanuatu as he attempted to overcome his opponent with a mixture of combinations. The scoring after round one had the athlete from India edging Namri on the judges score sheets and unfortunately after the final bell the judges still had Amit ahead, meaning he won based on points.
Another exciting day the Commonwealth Games saw our athletes smash their targets and tomorrow the main Athletics programme starts, and we are looking forward to seeing our nations represented on the track.

This coverage of Oceania athletes and teams at the BIRMINGHAM 2022 Commonwealth Games is through ONOC’s long-standing partnership with The Reporters’ Academy. The Reporters’ Academy is a not for profit media production company that delivers a unique programme for young people between 14 – 23 years. They provide ‘industry standard’ media coverage of local, national, and international events. This has been extremely useful for the Pacific Islands where ONOC is still working with regional media organisations to strengthen sports reporting and journalism.

SOURCE: ONOC MEDIA/PACNEWS