A highlight of the PG

THE record breaking run by Banuve Tabakaucoro in the 200 metres is one of the highlights in the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea as the hosts swept the competition away.

PNG made a record gold medal haul in the Pacific Games in almost all sports.

For Fiji, Banuve’s run and two gold medals capped off a satisfactory performance for Team Fiji as we won some and lost some and ended up fourth in the medal tally.

But our uncharacteristic flop in the middle-distance running will be a guideline for our athletic experts in the future in the next four years for the next Pacific Games to be held in Tonga.

A former sprinter himself, athletic boss, Joe Rodan was there and he must have wished he was 20 years younger.

We badly missed someone to compete against Papua New Guinea, who have proven themselves to be champions all rounders in the track events as well as almost other sports.

Local athletics cannot compare with rugby in terms of money offered by overseas contracts and may lose some more in the future because of this.

But for the dedicated ones that continue to battle on, even though they did not win in the Pacific Games, we take our hats off for them. They are the ones that should be given incentives to continue in the sports.

There is also need to boost the women in that area and perhaps a return of 100 metres record holder Makelesi Bulikiobo will see to this.

An attempt was made by her for this Games but she was out of form and left it too late as she also has new family committments.

However, history proves that champion women athletes such as Ana Ramacake Birch, Torika Varo and Sainiana Tukana, to name a few, came back into athletics and performed much better than before motherhood.

With the new re-organisation and leadership we hope that Fiji will do better in the middle distance area when the next Pacific Games is held in Tonga.

The prizemoney offered by sponsors BSP for medal winners will definitely go a long way in motivating players to train harder.

For other sports which did not quite make it like volleyball we look forward to improvements. Volleyball is a growing sport in Fiji and facilities are now improving.

Soccer suffered a setback in their attempt to win gold because of the qualifying matches final schedule but winning an Olympic spot was a dream come true.

It is the second time that soccer will be taking part in an international competition thanks to a New Zealand disqualification. We won a game in the under-20 world cup and we look forward to more exciting news from the under-23 team, though we have dropped in rankings overall.

Because of their big population, good preparation right from the government leaders and holistic approach to the games made it the most successful PNG achievement in regional sports competition.

They are also celebrating their 40th year of independence and they declared PNG to be a God-fearing nation when they, as a nation received a 400-year-old King James version of the Bible, given as a gift by the State of Illinois in the US.

They prepared a great reception on the day the big Bible arrived and the Speaker of the House led the delegation that brought the gift home to Port Moresby.

He even went as far as to remove traditional carvings that once decorated parliament house and is facing opposition from all quarters as they said he should have been neutral, but he was unmoved.

We congratulate the basketball girls, sevens rugby men and women for their gold medal wins giving fans back home something to cheer about.

Younis Bese’s 4×100 relay team made sure that the PNG women did not make a clean sweep of the women’s competition.

Milika Tuivanuavou’s shot putt and the high jump, shooters, Goulding’s javelin gold and other gold medallist have all been rewarded for their immense effort to keep the Fiji flag flying.

The lesson we can learn from PNG is their holistic approach in preparation, that is physically, mentally and spiritually.

That’s what we call leaving no stone unturned.

* Pacific Games coverage courtesy of BSP