ONOC Digest – Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

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

OCEANIA’S DAY AT THE GAMES – DAY 5

BIRMINGHAM, 04 AUGUST 2022 (ONOC MEDIA)—Our Oceania teams have had an incredible day on the fifth day of competition. Today we’ve had medals, personal bests, season bests and most importantly, every athlete is doing an amazing job at representing their countries.

Cook Islands
The team Cook Islands swimmers made history today as the quartet of Bede Aitu, Kirsten Fisher-Marsters, Lanihei Connolly and Wesley Roberts were the first ever relay team for the Islands, as they took part in the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay.
First into the pool for team Cook Islands was Bede Aitu, who powered down the first 50 metres in 29.75, to turn in third place and he managed to power home to hand over to Kirsten Fisher-Marsters. Kirsten had a lightning quick takeover with a reaction time of 0.25 as she completed her 100m in 1:15:81. Completing the third leg was 16-year-old sensation Lanihei Connolly, who has had a very successful games so far. She did the first 50 metres of her swim 30 seconds flat and was able to continue the pace to finish her contribution in 1:05:68. The final member of the quartet was Wesley Roberts, whose speed and stroke rate meant he completed his 100 metres in 50.69, leaving the team with a combined time of 4:16:66. An incredible feat for the first-time relay swimmers of the islands.
The relay wasn’t the only race for Bede Aitu, as he was in the pool for the Men’s 200m Backstroke, starting in lane 7, Bede had an impressive swim to finish in a time of 2.11.64, a new PB by nearly 3 seconds.
The Lawn Bowls today saw the first round for the Women’s Triples, Women’s Pairs, Men’s Singles and Men’s Fours. In their first match of the day the Triples team of Emily Jim, Tiare Jim and skip Teokotai Jim, took on the team from Wales. It was a close affair over 18 ends but smart play from the three bowlers from the Cook Islands allowed them to get ahead in end 3 and keep their lead to win the match 14-11.
For the Women’s triples second match of the day, it was Dee Hoggan, Lauren Baillie-Whyte and Caroline Brown from Scotland who were their opponents and despite conceding in the first end the team had a dominant victory, which finished 24-13.
Women’s Pairs Matapa Puid and Nooroa Mataio went head to head with a team from Norfolk Island. The team from the Cook Islands won 3 points in the first end, however Shea Wilson and Carmen Anderson settled into the game and took the lead in end five. Despite a valiant effort Matapa & Nooroa lost 26-14.
The Men’s Fours made up of Royden Aperau, Alex Kairua, Aidan Zittersteijn and Jason Lindsey lost their first match 25-10 to England, this was unfortunately followed up by Men’s Singles bowler Phillip Jim losing his opening match 21-9 to Aaron Wilson from Australia.
With several rounds to go the bowlers in the Women’s Pairs, Men’s Singles and the Men’s Fours still have it all to play for.

Fiji
Team Fiji captured another medal today, their third of the Games. Taniela Rainibogi claimed a well-earned bronze medal in the Men’s 96kg Final. In a hugely competitive field with plenty of twists and turns, the 24-year-old will head home with a medal. The Fijian started his competition with a solid lift of 150kg in the snatch, which he followed up with another powerful lift of 155kg, this left him in tied 3rd position at the halfway point.
In the clean and jerk Taniela was able to kick on to lift his heaviest weight of 188kg. Taniela’s determination was clear to see as he claimed a memorable medal, “I want to thank the lord for giving me the strength, I’m so happy and it is difficult to express how I feel right now. It was emotional on the podium and a moment I won’t forget.” and for the Fijian, inspiring the next generation is a key part of his future plans, “this medal is more than just a medal, it is something for Fiji weightlifting, we have kids back at home and I hope I can pass on some advice.”
Over at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Fiji had plenty of athletes in the pool. In heat four of the Men’s 50m Freestyle the team had Hansel McCaig, David Young and Epeli Herbet Rabua in heat 5. The three athletes were some of the quickest athletes off the block. Hansel was the quickest out of the trio, finishing first with a time of 23.29.
In the Women’s 50m Backstroke Cheyenne Rova touched home in 2nd place in a time of 32.34.
During the first day of Athletics Ratu Banuve Tabakaucoro was in the 100m heats and finished 5th in a time of 10.64.
Shanice Takayawa was in action for Fiji in the Coventry Arena, home to Judo for the next few days. During her -70kg Quarter Final match against host nation judoka Katie-Jemima Yeats-Brown Shanice gave it her all to advance to the next round but her opponent scored an Ippon, meaning Shanice entered the repechage. In the repechage the Nigerian Joy Oluchi Asonye was the opponent for Shanice and both judokas showed a huge amount of skill and patience as they attempted to get the win. The match ended golden score time as both athletes failed to win in normal time and it was the Nigerian who won
Team Fiji had four groups in action today at the Lawn Bowls including the Women’s Fours who were in the bronze medal match. The team, led by skip Sheral Mar raced into a 4-0 lead by end 3 of the match before their opponents New Zealand found their rhythm and started to win ends. The match finished 17-6 to New Zealand and Fiji’s Women’s Fours finished the tournament in fourth place.
It was mixed fortunes for the Fijian Lawn Bowls teams in first round action today. The Women’s Pairs and Women’s Fours lost their round 1 matches, but both still have a big chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals in their remaining games. The Women’s Triples of Radhika Prasad, Loreta Kotoisuva and skip Sheral Mar had their opening two rounds of competition today. First against Malaysia the Women won a tight contest 17-14 before impressing against Canada, by taking a convincing 19 – 10 win, meaning they finish the day with a 100% record.

Kiribati
Team Kiribati had one athlete in action today on the track at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, as Lataisi Mwea competed in the first round of the Men’s 100m. The 22-year-old was making his debut at the Commonwealth Games and completed his heat in 11.33, just over 0.1 off his personal best. “It was better than my last race in Eugene (Athletics World Championships), but I would have liked to go quicker. It is an honour, I’m grateful and happy to be picked to represent Kiribati.”

Nauru
Nauru have won a medal at every Commonwealth Games since 1990 and today 19-year-old Weightlifter Maxmina Uepa kept that tradition alive as she won a memorable bronze medal.
The teenager started strong in the snatch element of the competition, as she successfully cleared all three of her lifts at weights of 90kg, 94kg and 96kg. The impressive start meant that Maxmina went into the clean and jerk in joint third place. During the second half of the competition Maxmina cleared both 115kg and 119kg to cement her position on the podium and take home a bronze to Nauru.
Cheered on by her team in the stands, you could see the delight on the young Weightlifters face and commenting on her performance she said, “I’m really happy and proud of what I have done.”
There was even more to celebrate for team Nauru as their entries into the Men’s and Women’s team 100m both sealed personal bests. In the Women’s heat Wena Gobure crossed the line at 13.21. In the Men’s heats Jireh Agege was the quickest athlete off the blocks during his heat to finish with a time of 11.08 seconds.
Over in the Judo, Kip Kosam received a bye in his first -81kg match and in his quarter-final lost to Northern Ireland’s Eoin Fleming. Kendrick Taleka was Nauru’s second judoka taking to the mats today, against Canadian Mohab Elnaha. It was Kendrick’s opponent who got off to a quick start by scoring a Waza-ari early on, which he followed up shortly after to win the match.

Niue
Xavier Mata’afa-Ikinofo was in the ring for Niue today in the Men’s Over 63.5kg-67kg, taking on Jean Marie Onana Ngah in the red corner from Cameroon. As the bell rang the athlete from Niue showed his quick footwork to last some critical blows to his competitor and at the end one three out of the five judges had him leading his competitor.
Round 2 was another successful one for Xavier, with strong combinations scoring him vital points to have all five judges marking him as the better performer out of the two.
In the final round, Xavier managed to keep his momentum in the bout and as the final bell rang he was declared the winner by the judges. Xavier will be back in action in the Quarter Finals on Thursday.
Over at the Lawn Bowls in Leamington, Niue had 5 matches across the day, with the Women’s Triples, Women’s pairs, Men’s Fours and Men’s Singles all in action.
For the Women’s Triples they faced host nation England followed by New Zealand in the first two matches of their section of the draw. Despite a valiant effort by Tagaloa Tukuitoga, Liline Tagaloa Heweet and Selasiosiana Sionetamasi Simpson, unfortunately, their opponents won both matches.
During the Women’s Pairs, Hina Rereiti and skip Olivia Eunice Buckingham took on South African pair Bridget Calitz and Colleen Piketh. Heading into the third end the pair from Niue were two-nil down but they managed to score three in the third end of the match. As the match progressed Hina and Olivia’s opponents managed to regain the lead and won the match 26-9.
In the Men’s Fours match on rink 9, team Niue went head-to-head with a quartet from Australia. Niue’s men took the first point of the match before Australia settled into the match and claimed the victory.
All the teams will be back on the rink in their next round match and will give it their all to win.

Norfolk Island
At Victoria Park, home of the Lawn Bowls the Women’s pairs, made up of Carmen Anderson and Shae Wilson, finished their first-round match with an incredible 26- 14 win against the Cook Islands, to put a marker down for the rest of the competition. The first 4 rounds were a steady start but by the fifth, Shea and Carmen raced ahead with a lead that just kept growing as the game progressed. A multigenerational dream team keeping the crowd entertained.
Over at the Men’s singles Ryan Dixon had a strong start against Northern Island’s Gary Kelly. For a few rounds it was neck and neck, with the pair battling for the win, however Dixon ended the match 21-12 down.
The rest of teams competing for Norfolk Island on the rink today had a difficult session as the Women’s Triples lost their opening two matches to Canada and Malaysia. Whilst Ryan Dixon in the Men’s Singles lost 21-12 to Gary Kelly from Northern Ireland. John Christian, Trevor Gow, Haydn Evans and skip Tim Sherian took on Wales in their opening round. The Welsh team led by Owain Dando raced into a quick lead and unfortunately, John and the team didn’t overturn the deficit. The team heads into tomorrow knowing they have the talent to pull off some memorable wins for the team.

Papua New Guinea
It was a busy day on track for PNG’s athletes, during the first day of athletics at the competition. 23-year-old Leroy Kamau was in the Men’s 100m heats and starting in lane 7, he quickly got into his rhythm and set a new PB of 10.68. The same can be said for Toea Wisil, who was quick out of the blocks and crossed the finish line in a season’s best time of 11.79.
The Birmingham crowd were treated to a delight of a race as Ephraim Lerkin was in the second heat of the Men’s 400m hurdles as he gracefully jumped the barriers. The PNG athlete achieved a season’s best time of 52.43.
In the Men’s discus qualification De’bono Paraka was in qualifying group A and the furthest he threw was 48.19, which sadly wasn’t enough to progress through to the next round.
Over the next two days the spectators at these Games are in for a treat, as Heptathlete Edna Boafob takes part in 7 events in the Women’s event. First up was the 100m Hurdles and after a quick reaction time Edna made her way over the barriers gracefully in a time of 16.42 to finish with 664 points. Onto the High Jump next and for the athlete from PNG dug deep to produce a thrilling personal best of 1.51m to increase her total to 1296 points.
Edna had seemingly settled into the competition as she entered the third event of the day Shot Putt and was able to produce a new PB throw of 10.14m. With one event left on the first day of competition Edna was sat on 1835 points and as she made her way round the bend and down the straight in the 200m she crossed in a time of 26.15 seconds to finish day one on 2619 points. Tomorrow we can expect to see more excellent performances from the 23-year-old.
In the Boxing ring, Nevilla Warupi went up against Solomon Islands boxer Lele Pemberton in the Men’s 63.5kg-67kg. Both men had their teams cheering them on the crowd and as the match began you could see both boxers were wanting the win. Neville strung together a series of punches to back his opponent into the corner, landing blow after blow. Lele retaliated with his own set of direct hits to set the tone for an enthralling match. After taking the lead in the first round Neville dug deep to keep up his energy as he bounced around the ring. The pendulum swung in favour of the boxer from Solomon Islands, but at the end of the contest it was Neville who was the victor, and he moves onto the next round.

Samoa
Samoa have had some of the finest Weightlifters the Commonwealth Games have ever seen and in the Men’s 96kg final today Don Opeloge joined the esteemed hall of fame his country and family have.
Going into the competition as one of the heavy favourites Don was the last Weightlifter to take to the stage. In his first lift in the snatch Don went for a Games record 161kg, which he cleared with ease, leaving the crowd speechless wondering what they might witness today. The Weightlifter didn’t stop there and within minutes increased the games record to 166kg and then 171kg. At the halfway stage Don had a 13kg lead over his rivals and it seemed inevitable that he would walk away with the Gold as the crowd were cheering and chanting at every opportunity they had.
In the clean and jerk Don didn’t hold back and continued to write his name in the record books as his first attempt of 200kg was a new games record and again he followed this up 2 minutes later with a lift of 210kg. The crowd were in awe of the Samoan, who finished the competition with a total of 381kg, you guessed it……. a new Games record.
The party had only just started as the Samoan team and crowd were on their feet, as Don’s coach ran onto the stage and hugged the Weightlifter before they danced together on the stage. The new Commonwealth Champion had this to say after his medal ceremony, “I’m so excited, it was a big Commonwealth competition and we made it. I know the Commonwealths are really hard. I was so excited for that final lift when I won the gold. I feel more powerful to go on and achieve even more.”
Just across the hall from the Weightlifting was the Boxing, where Marion Faustino Ah Tong took on Sri Lanka’s Niklas Vittalis in the Over 67-71kg Light Middleweight category. Marion started well as he covered the ring, landing crucial blows on his competitors and the judges scored him highly. The Samoan kept the energy up for the entirety of the match and all five judges handed him the win.
Samoa has three sprinters in the 100m heats today. William Angliss Hunt led the team out when he crossed the line in 10.70, a new personal best. Johnny Key and Pesamino Iakopo joined William in the Men’s 100m with times of 110.98 and 11.29.
Kolone Alefosio was impressive in the Men’s 110m Hurdles as he glided over the barriers in a personal best of 14.78. In the Men’s Discus qualifying Alex Rose finished second in his heat as he threw 63.20m to qualify for the final. On his result Alex said, “I’m very happy with my result today. The goal today is just qualifying for the final. So, after my first throw, I knew I was in, it was awesome.”
Another Samoan athlete made it to a final as Women’s Shot Putter Nu’u Tuilefano threw a distance of 16.10m to progress.
It was an impressive performance by Samoa’s athletes, and this was topped off with Kelvin Tuiala Masoe in the Men’s Long Jump, who jumped a season best of 6.75m.
At the Judo, William Tai Tin sadly lost his opening match of the Men’s 73kg competition to Malaysia’s Amir Daniel Bin Abdul Majeed.However, being part of team Samoa he says, is an honour, “this is my first Commonwealth Games and I compete for my nation with a lot of pride. We want to go out there and try and do our best. I went out there and tried to do what I could but it didn’t work out today, but that’s sport.”
Swimming is entering its final stages at these Commonwealth Games and today the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay took to the pool. Lushavel Stickland, Brandon Schuster, Olivia Borg and Kokoro Frost were the quartet who finished their heat in first place with a time of 4:13:66. It has been a great meet for the swimmers from Samoa who have achieved National records and PBs to make these a Commonwealth Games to remember.

Solomon Islands
In an enthralling boxing match at Birmingham’s NEC, Lele Pemberton went head-to-head with Nevilla Warupi in the Men’s Over 63.5kg-67kg. Straight from the off the pair danced around the ring ducking and diving as they attempted to get the upper hand. The judges all said the boxer from PNG won the first round 10-9 and at the start of round two Lele stepped up another gear as he tried to get points on the board. With a series of fast paced combinations Lele made headway and by the end of round 2, two judges had him winning the round.
Entering the final round the bout was on a knife edge that could go either way. As Lele skirted around the ring, the pair traded blows as we came to the final few seconds of the match. For the final round, three of the five judges said the Solomon Islands boxer won the round, however overall the scores showed Neville Warupi just edged the contest.
Despite the result the boxer from Solomon Islands was upbeat, “this is my first time at the Commonwealth Games so I’m really proud of what I have done. It’s more like a high level for me because I’m actually just entering international competition. So I’m very happy.”
At the Aquatics Centre Matthew Wila Tiako and Edgar Iro both competed in the Men’s 50m Freestyle, finishing with a time of 32.29 and 27.42 respectively.
Hannah U’una and Rose Gwali were back in action on the Beach Volleyball court as they took on fellow Pacific nation Vanuatu in the second set of group matches for the pair. The Birmingham crowd really got behind the teams as they attempted to secure the win. Unfortunately for the Solomon Island duo it was Vanuatu’s team who took the win 21-8, 21-7.;
For Hannah and Rose there are a lot of positives for playing in the Games that they can take away as they hit the international circuit., “we really feel excited to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, we are getting used to the weather here a little and we are focusing on maximising our strength and energy. This is our first time playing against bigger nations and it is a great experience for us.”
Leslie Pandabela was the judoka in action for Solomon Islands today as he took on Narciso Matos from Mozambique in the -73kg. As both judokas grappled around the match to get the decisive winner it was Narciso who scored an Ippon and advanced to the next round.
After his bout Leslie reflected on his time at the Games, “It’s my first second international match. It’s a good experience to meet the top fighters from all around the world. To bring my judo career and experience to the next level. So I really appreciate the experience of this tournament.”

Tonga
Team Tonga had 4 athletes in the action today across the games, first at the athletics track Shot Putter Ata Maama Tuutafaiva was in group A where either a throw of over 18m or being in the top 12 would see you qualify for the final. The recent Pacific Mini Games Champion threw a distance of 15.37m to make into the top 12 and we will be seeing her in the final tomorrow evening.
Next onto the track was 24-year-old sprinter Ronald Fotofili, who is making his debut in the Commonwealth Games. As he left the block Ronald quickly got into his running rhythm crossed the line in a time of 10.80, a new personal best and for him being part of team Tonga means a lot, “I’m very happy to have a new personal best and so proud to represent my country.”
In the pool Tonga Alan Koti Lopeti and Finau Ohyafi both competed in the Men’s 50m Freestyle. Alan finished with a time of 24.92, whilst Finau managed a new PB of 24.92 in his heat in the pool.

Tuvalu
Competing for Tuvalu at the Athletics stadium today was 23-year-old Karalo Kepoiteloto Maibuca, in the Men’s 100m field. Lining up in lane 6 the sprinter crossed the line in 6th position with a time of 11.39 a new personal best, beating his previous time of 11.42.
Karalo’s progression over the last few years is clear to see, at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, the Tuvalu athlete finished with a time of 11.98, and his new PB in Birmingham shows the hard work has paid off. Commenting on her race Karalo said, “I was a bit sleepy in the blocks, but 11.39, a new PB, that’s awesome, that was my aim for today. I just can’t wait to go back to training again and come back with an even better time.”

Vanuatu
On the opening day of the Athletics at the competition of Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium saw 17-year-old sprinter Chloe David take to the track in the Women’s 100m heats. With a packed crowd in the stands, Chloe powered down the straight to cross the line with a time of 12.60, a new PB, which she set only a few months ago. After the race Chloe said, “I’m so proud of myself for reaching this stage, it is such a good experience being out here and one of my aims coming into my for international games was to get a PB and that’s what I’ve done.”
Back at the Coventry Arena, home to the Judo competition at these Commonwealth Games, Vanuatu’s Hugo Cumbo took to the mat in a Men’s 073kg elimination round match against Australia Uros Nikolic. As the competitors bowed to signal the start of the match, the Australian moved quickly to be awarded a Waza-ari the bout then settled as Hugh attempted to gain momentum them, but he was given a shido penalty by the referee just before his opponent scored another Waza-ari to end the contest. After his bout Hugo said, “I’m very proud to represent Vanuatu, it is an honour.”
The other judoka from Vanuatu in action today was Joe Mahit, also in the Men’s -73kg, and he was going head-to-head with Dato Matsoukatova from Cyprus. As Joe walked into the arena the crowd showed their support for the 30-year-old. As the match began the opposition from Cyprus had a slight edge and scored an Ippon, meaning Joe exited the competition in the round of 16.
In the Weightlifting Ajah Pritchard-Lolo competed in the Women’s 87kg final, during the snatch she had two successful lifts, the first at 73kg and second at 78kg. When it came to the clean and jerk the athlete from Vanuatu kept a clean sheet lifting 93kg, 97kg and 100kg across her three attempts to get her a total of 178kg and an 8th place finish in a major final.
Beach Volleyball duo Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko took on fellow Pacific nation Solomon Islands in their second-round match of the Women’s group stage. The pair showed their class on the sand with 7 aces across both sets as they took the victory 21-8, 21-7 to make it two wins out of two and top the group, with only England left to play. Discussing their next opponents Miller said, “it will be hard as both teams have been training well and we will give it our all.”
It has been an action-packed day for our nations in Birmingham with three more medals to add to the tally, we can’t wait to see what incredible feats our athletes achieve tomorrow.

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