South Pacific Games

PNG leads race for gold
Monday, October 16, 2006

EVERYONE going to the South Pacific Games is not assured of a gold medal until they have completed their event.

This was stated by Oceania Athletics development officer, James Goulding, yesterday after the latest Pacific Islands Athletics Ranking was relased.

Based on the current ranking, Papua New Guinea are the favourites going into the track and field competition in Samoa next year. Fiji has ruled the track and field competition at regional meets, particularly the South Pacific Games for the last decade.

And Goulding says while, PNG and Fiji looks good on paper in the leadup events, anything can happen on the day.

"Unfortunately that is one binding factor of sports, anything can happen on the day,’’ Goulding said.

"But I believe PNG will be sending a very strong team based on their recent performances especially in the women’s track events.

"This is an area where Fiji used to be very strong but it seems PNG has taken the lead in most events.

“But I know Makelesi Bulikiobo has been making good progress in her comeback, and the young upcoming crop in Fiji just need to be pushed harder now.”

With less than a year away Goulding said it was important that Fiji gets starts shaking up its national squad members.

Goulding adds that FASANOC should start pushing national federations to get their preparation plans into action.

"This also means that preparations funds from FASANOC should be put into action now, not just three months away.

"What is often done is that we always wait for national federations to identify their elite athletes first and support them whilst the others are left out there.

"I have not supported this because even a B-Standard qualifying athlete can win gold.

"No one is assured gold until completing their events, because your best performance is like Christmas, comes only once a year.

“So these rankings does not really signify the real threats at the SPG.”

In the women’s 100 metres ranking, PNG’s Mae Koime, Toea Wisil and Samoa’s Talava Tavu have posted electronics times faster than Sera Tuinalase and Tahitia Kamea. Koime’s 11.71 seconds time at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games still stands as the fastest time this year.

In the 200 metres event, Koime again leads the charge with a 24.20 sec time posted also in Melbourne compared to Alena Vadrasamu’s 25.5secs. Koime recently recorded a 25.2 run last month in PNG.

Wisil is also the front runner in the 400 metres event with a time of 56.01 secs posted in Melbourne in February. The men’s, however, Fiji is on top of its respective track events while as usual New Caledonia are leading results posted to date in the field events.

The only field event Fiji leads in is Rajendra Prasad in the high jump event whose 2.05m jump at Melbourne remains the season’s best. Javelin thrower Leslie Copeland at 73 metres is slightly behind France-based New Caledonian thrower Vitoli Tipotio’s 76.29m posted in Francoville in May.

But Copeland’s progressive results make him favourite for the event.

Niko Verekauta at this stage remains untouchable with the top four fastest times over 400m belonging to him this year ranging from 46.2 seconds in Melbourne and recently a 47.30secs in Beijing, China in August.

Fiji, however, are the front runners in the relays which Goulding says is always the case because of the wide base of equally good sprinters.