Athletics has had a super surge of high-level competition over the past two months, starting with the Oceania Championships in Mackay, then moving onto the Pacific Mini Games in Saipan with the World Championships in Oregon, USA and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England taking centre stage in July and August.
Our athletes are thriving with the opportunity to finally get the opportunity to compete again after almost two years of little or no competition.
The Pacific Mini Games in Saipan saw our Pacific Island athletes front and centre, with athletics hosting a truly international event which saw Australia field a strong development team. For many this was an important competition in their build up to World Championships and Commonwealth Games.
The reign of the current Oceania Sprint King and Queen continues, with Banuve Tabakaucoro (Fiji) and Toea Wisil (PNG) winning the men and women’s sprint double in Saipan. Both were also a part of their gold medal-winning 4 x 100m relay teams.
Samoa took the gold medal in Men’s 110m hurdles with a dominant display from Kolone Alefosio, taking out the event in a time of 14.82. The Women’s 100m hurdles showed Adrine Monagi (PNG) is back to her best after a training camp in Australia at the Oceania Athletics Association Performance Centre, when she recorded 14.15.
Eighteen-year-old Ben Roberts (AUS) showed he is a future star in the men’s hammer throw, winning gold with a throw of 58.61m. His equally talented twin sister Lara took the gold in the women’s hammer throw with 54.79m. Donny Tuimaseve (SAM) was outstanding in the men’s javelin with a throw of 69.05m to take the gold medal. Iosefo Rakesa F41 (FIJ) was too good winning gold in both the men’s
ambulant shot put and javelin.
There were a lot of young athletes having their first taste of international competition in Saipan. The winner of the Women’s 1500m was 19-year-old Scholastica Herman (PNG), with 16 year old Estelle Gentilly (PYF) not far behind with the silver medal position.
Continuing the ‘build’ of a community of wellbeing at the Pacific Mini Games
Athletes from across Oceania travelled to the Northern Mariana Islands to compete, learn, and share experiences to be treasured for a lifetime at the 11th Pacific Mini Games. There were over 1,000 participants from 20 countries participating in nine events. During the Athletics meet athletes, coaches, team managers, officials, and administrators continued the Education Hub from the Oceania Athletics Area Championships, where the purpose was to build the capacity and capabilities of all stakeholders so they could share their learnings when they return to their home countries and local athletic clubs.
Sessions were run covering wellbeing literacy, gender leadership networking and Paralympic information. All sessions highlighted best practice and had activities where the participants engaged with each other.
The wellbeing literacy sessions introduced participants on how to create a shared language of wellbeing that enables every individual within the sport to be the best version of themselves individually and collectively. Whether team manager, coach, technical official, administrator or athlete, there is a need to develop wellbeing at the ME level, and recognise that as we interact with one another it builds psychological safety, and in turn, wellbeing at the WE and US levels.
The inclusion (Paralympic) sessions had coaches and past athletes share their athletics journey and how to transition from an athlete to further education and promote inclusion in their country. We thank PNG Coach, Brett Green, Fiji Coach, Albert Miller, and Oceania Athletics Association (OAA) staff member and former Para athlete, Kobie Donovan, for sharing their knowledge and stories with our participants.
The OAA also continued their Gender Leadership program at the Games, with a breakfast for technical officials, athletes, coaches, and administrators to network and empower females in leadership roles in their respective countries – relationships that we look forward to continuing.