16 Feb 2016

Sport: Pacific teams at Oceania Mixed Badminton Champs

12:17 pm on 16 February 2016

The Oceania Mixed Team Badminton Championships begin in Auckland today, featuring teams from six countries.

Guam, New Caledonia, Tahiti and Tonga will contest the round robin format with the top two teams advancing to the next stage against Australia and New Zealand.

Guam's Michelle Kremper said she could not wait for the action to begin.

"I'm really excited about playing. I don't know what level the other players will be at but I do know they're really good. I'm hoping to win at least one match."

Lauti Naaniumotu is the Development Officer for Badminton Tonga and will also be competing for the Kingdom.

"We all feel a high motivation here and its good to watch the better players and listen to the coaches so we can learn from them. We want to do well in the Oceania Mixed Team Championship but we realise the level of the Australian and New Zealand players is high so we are trying to improve and be competitive."

Tahiti and New Caledonia will renew their Francophone rivalry when they clash in the afternoon and Leo Cucuel said he's ready to set aside friendships when the action starts.

"The rivalry is on-court only, off-court the players are friends and in some cases we've known each other for six or seven years but once you're on court there are no friendships, its intense competition.

"We compete every year in the Oceania championships and we've never beaten New Caledonia. Last time we came fourth behind New Caledonia and Fiji and then last time they beat us for third place. Hopefully, this time we can get a first bronze medal for Tahiti."

Stage 1 action begins with New Caledonia taking on Guam and Tonga up against Tahiti.

The Men's and Women's Team events begin on Friday and Saturday and feature Men's teams from Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Tahiti, and Women's teams from Australia, Guam, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Tahiti.