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 10
At Birmingham’s Alexander stadium Vanuatu’s Elstrom Wanemut was in the Men’s Triple Jump final. After a failed first attempt, Elstrom hopped, skipped, and jumped his way across the sand pit to reach a distance of 12.84m on his second go.
The jumper then followed this up with his third and final attempt of 13.10, just 32cm short of his season’s best.
The final action for team Vanuatu at these Commonwealth Games was a bronze medal match, as Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko attempted to claim the bronze the Beach Volleyball team won at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Their opponents were New Zealand’s Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley who got off to a lightning quick start as ran into a 7-0 lead with some strong play before a lovely spike by Miller Pata won the team’s first point helping settle any pre match nerves.
The momentum was with New Zealand, until Vanuatu was able to get three additional points on the board including a lovely Miller Pata roll over the net for the score to stand at 10-4.
New Zealand’s team didn’t let up in the first set as they continued to string together points to have a 9-point lead of 15-6. Vanuatu was still playing great Volleyball, including a rally where the team made some key blocks to snatch a point. It was still New Zealand who had all the momentum in the first set and at the first time of asking sealed the set 21-10.
The second set was vital for Vanuatu and at the start of it, New Zealand had a slight edge but Miller and Sherysyn fought their way into it playing some beautiful shots as the teams started to trade points to bring it even at 7-7.
It’s clear that Vanuatu is a world class team and both sides showed their abilities, as they covered the court, dived for points and thrilled the crowd. Great play and a super spike by Sherysyn left the score 11-10 to New Zealand, they soon levelled things up at 12-12.
An ace by Miller meant Vanuatu took the lead in the set, which they extended to a three-point lead with some wonderful play. The match was then on a knife edge as New Zealand didn’t stop fighting and they pulled level.
The second set showed the calibre of both teams and New Zealand found themselves three points from the set. Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley from New Zealand had a chance at the bronze medal but hit it wide. Vanuatu won the next two points to give themselves their own chance at the set and sealed it with a wonderful hit over the net, getting an ecstatic crowd on their feet.
After five matches it, all came down to the final set to find out who would be taking home a bronze medal. Throughout this entire competition both teams have entertained the fans, and both should be applauded for the quality of their play. As play started Vanuatu won the first two points before New Zealand replied.
Miller and Sherysyn then stepped up another gear and were moving across the court well, including an incredible block by Sherysyn that gave the team a two-point advantage, but Alice and Shaunna soon levelled up the scores.
After the next change of ends, lovely dinks over the net from both Miller and Sherysyn secured Vanuatu two incredible points to take an 8-5 lead. New Zealand won the next three points to draw level again, as the momentum swung back and forth between both teams.
Miller and Sherysyn showed their class as they were covering every shot and creating opportunities wherever possible. Miller took another unbelievable point in a decisive period of the set to help Vanuatu go 14-9 up, one point away from the bronze medal.
New Zealand saved the first before Sherysyn smashed the ball across court to win the crucial point that sealed the bronze medal. Incredible teamwork from the pair helped make it back-to-back medals in the event for Vanuatu and all the hard work they put in paid off.
For Solomon Islands their last event of the Commonwealth Games was the Women’s 5000m final. It was 35-year-old Dianah Matekali who took to the track for the 12.5 lap race that was sure to be a fast-paced contest.
Off the back of recently setting a new half marathon personal best, the runner lined up hoping today a new personal best for the shorter 5000m distance was awaiting. After starting the race at a steady pace Dianah completed the first two and a half laps of the track in a time of 3:30.3 and by the halfway point her time was 9:47.6.
During the second half of the race Dianah continued to clock up the metres as she passed through the 3000m and 4000m check points. With 1000m left Dianah had a time of 15:22.3 and with a final sprint to come, looked as though she may have done enough to get a new PB.
After 4900m Dianah entered the home straight and gave her all to cross the finish line in a time of 19:06.80, a new personal best, beating her previous one by 14 seconds, a wonderful way to end the games for team Solomon Islands.
At the Athletics, 23-year-old Donny Tuimaseve was in the Men’s Javelin final, one of the last events of the track and field programme. The national record holder had three out of three successful throws in the competition. His first throw was 60.30, whilst he registered a distance of 56.34m on his second. With his third and final attempt Donny threw his Javelin 63.14m.
It was the final day for the Boxing competition at Birmingham’s NEC arena and it was a big day for Samoa as Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali was in the gold medal match in the Men’s Heavyweight division. Yesterday Ato got past fellow Pacific Oceania boxer Duken Holo Tutakitoa-Williams from Niue in his semi-final; and today it was England’s Lewis Williams who was the opponent in his way.
With a packed-out stadium both boxers walked into the stadium with swagger, and with a Samoa contingent in the stands Ato received a glorious welcome into the arena. Giving his coach a hug before his bout, Ato attempted to improve on the Silver he won at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The bell rang and the Samoan appeared to be the boxer who got the brighter start as he zipped around the ring landing some strong body shots on the host nation’s boxer.
Both boxers were evenly matched as they traded combinations and punches. Lewis Williams managed to connect with several punches to the head of Ato and as the bell rang the judges had the Englishman unanimously 10-9 up.
After a chat with his coaches Ato instantly got into the centre of the ring at the start of the round to try and take control of the match and managed to land several shots, whilst ducking and diving his opponents’ attempts.
England’s Lewis Williams had the quality to make it a challenging round for Ato who needed two big rounds to overturn his round one deficit. Both boxers were adopting defensive tactics and clinching, whilst occasionally switching to offensive plays.
At the end of round 2 the judges still had England’s boxer ahead 20-18. A massive final round was coming up to seal the bout and both boxers didn’t disappoint.
Ato and Lewis traded blows, including some devastating uppercuts to leave it all down to the judge’s final marks. As the scores were announced the crowd erupted as it was a unanimous decision in favour of England’s Lewis Williams. Both boxers met in the middle to applaud the incredible display they put on and the crowd reciprocated with loud cheers for both boxers.
Reflecting on his bout, Ato said, “I gave it my all. I gave every last ounce that I had and everytime I came out of the corner I was absolutely knackered. I knew he was the hometown boy, so I had to put it on him, I thought I did enough but that is boxing.”
On the crowd and what he will be doing once he gets home the boxer added, “I loved every moment of it, the roar of the crowd was amazing and once in a lifetime. I’m going to get home and spend time with my family and girlfriend as I haven’t seen them in a while.”
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