In an inspirational reflection tinged with practicality, Atma Maharaj – the ONOC Programme Lead for the BRISBANE 2032 Programme – shared past Pacific Islands’ performances at Olympic Games, with a suite of athlete and team case studies to demonstrate the islands’ potential.
Maharaj cited the inaugural Pacific Island win of an Olympic silver medal by Tongan boxer, Paea Wolfgramm, at the ATLANTA 1996 Summer Games, the 2008 win of a second silver medal by Samoan female weightlifter, Ele Opeloge, in BEIJING 2008, and Paralympic medal wins by Papua New Guinea’s Francis Kompaon (silver medal for 100m in athletics T46 Class in BEIJING 2008), and Fiji’s Iliesa Delana (gold medal in Men’s High Jump F42 Class) at LONDON 2012.
These have been complemented by the Fiji men’s rugby sevens wins of back-to-back gold medals at RIO 2016 and TOKYO 2020, plus Fiji women’s rugby sevens win of a bronze medal at TOKYO 2020.
Maharaj said; ‘These inspiring performances demonstrate that the Pacific Islands are capable of being world-beaters on any day.”
“At ONOC’s Annual General Assembly in May 2022, ONOC’s sports stakeholders unanimously agreed to a set of challenging performance targets focused around ‘Pathways and Performance’ as its primary objective.
‘This ambitious yet practical aspirational goal is to produce a 300% to 500% improvement on the Pacific Islands’ previous Olympics and Paralympics Games performances at BRISBANE 2032.”
The breakdown comprises a vision of ‘no less than 4 gold medals, 16 top 8 finishes, with 50+ athletes and 8+ sporting teams qualifying on merit’ for BRISBANE 2032.
According to Maharaj, achieving these would mean tapping into the true potential of Pacific sports and establishing a platform for future improved performances for future Games.
Maharaj said; “BRISBANE 2032 is an ideal catalyst to proactively create a revolution and a giant leap forward, to build capacity, strengthen relationships, deliver performance outcomes, generate sustainable and positive change throughout the region, with a legacy well beyond 2032.”
“BRISBANE 2032 must go beyond inspiration and must be remembered as the Games that gives the Pacific Islands a new way of thinking, a new level of outcomes, and new levels of performance that have never been seen before but will be see again post-2032.”
The roadmap focuses on athletes and the ecosystem of sports professionals needed to develop a generation of high-performance sportspeople to carry the Pacific Islands forward to a new era.