13 Sep 2013

Sport: PNG win medal count as Mini Games come to a close

5:13 pm on 13 September 2013

Papua New Guinea have finished atop the medal table at the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna.

15 countries and territories won gold medals over the past week and a half, but as Vinnie Wylie reports, consistency across a wide number of sports is what kept PNG in front.

The bulk of their success came in the first week of competition, where athletics and weightlifting brought in 28 of their 30 gold medals. In the final few days Theresa Tona won gold in taekwondo, but the best was left until last, with PNG coming from two sets to one down to stun hosts and Pacific Games champions Wallis and Futuna in the men's volleyball final in a five-set thriller. Team PNG Chef de Mission Richard Kassman says the performances bode well for when Port Moresby hosts the Pacific Games in two years time.

"RICHARD KASSMAN: We came here focused on 2013. We came here focused to make a really good showing here, and, yes, there were some young people and a sprinkling of seasoned athletes, and we brought them back deliberately, because it was important to have these seasoned athletes take a lead for a lot of young people that we bought. But awesome for our 2015 prospects - we've got a lot of young people across Va'a, across weightlifting, and obviously on the track, as well."

Tahiti finished strongly with 11 gold medals in taekwondo, and one each in beach and indoor volleyball, to finish second overall with 26 gold medals, 5 clear of New Caledonia who won 3 sailing golds on the final day to add to their haul in Track and Field. The hosts Wallis and Futuna weren't able to defend their volleyball crown, but still picked up a best ever haul of 36 medals, including gold for Games Ambassador Tony Falelavaki in the para-javelin and taekwondo's Jurgen Vegi in the men's under 80-kilogram division in a sudden death round. The Chef de Mission for Wallis and Futuna, Suliano Likiliki says the Mini Games have brought a lot of joy to the locals.

SULIANO LIKILIKI: The Pacific Games and the Pacific Mini Games are an opportunity for the countries who are visiting the host country to know the culture, the way of living of the population that is hosting them. And I think we have shown the countries how the Wallisian people and Futunan people live, and now they know the culture.

Fiji succumbed to arch-rivals Samoa in the final of the rugby sevens tournament, but still finished strongly with the husband and wife sailors Shayne and Torika Brodie claiming individual gold in the Hobie Cat competition, and helping Fiji to secure gold in the team event, as well. The pair also finished ahead of Australia to take out the Oceania Championship titles, which Torika Brodie says makes their success all the more satisfying.

TORIKA BRODIE: It was exciting that this is the first time that Oceanias in Competition. Of course that's a more coveted, for us, competition to win. The Games is also good, but having Australia there they're really strong competition so it's good.

The focus now moves to the next Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea in 2015 with Vanuatu to host the next Mini Games in 2017.