After a strong opening day of competition for Oceania at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, athletes competing in Weightlifting and Beach Volleyball got to make their debut on day 2.
After the excitement amongst team Cook Islands and the crowd yesterday, surrounding 16 year old swimmer Lanihei Connolly reaching the semi finals of the Women’s 50m Breaststroke, it was time for the young athlete to return to the pool in the 50m Freestyle. In another impressive performance Lanihei finished her heat in 3rd place with a time of 27.30, another personal best, adding to the one she achieved on day one.
The swimmer is coming into the competition in red hot form and with a few more races to go at the meet, she is sure to continue to impress. Lanihei is making sure she enjoys every moment of her time at the Games, “being here at the Commonwealth Games is just insane. All the people watching you swim and swimming in the pool is nice. I'm just so grateful to be here and I'm so grateful for the support that Cook Islands have given me.”
Elsewhere in the pool 24 year old Wesley Roberts finished his 200m freestyle heat in a time of 1:49:83.
In the boxing ring Tawhiri Toheriri-Hallett took on Rafail Pafios from Cyprus in the Men’s Over 67kg-71kg Little Middleweight category. The Cook Islands athlete in the blue corner, put in a commendable performance as they landed several key hits on his opponent but unfortunately, the judges awarded the win to the boxer in the red corner. Despite the loss Tawhiri can hold his head high as he helps inspire the next generation of young boxers, including a few young fans who got a boxing lesson at the end of the day.
Over at the Lawn Bowls the Men’s Triples currently sit third in their qualifying group after a 24-17 victory over Niue.
The Men’s Pairs and the Women’s Fours both lost their matches today, however Nooroa Mataio who is competing in the Women’s Singles currently sits in second place in her group after a 21-6 win over Fijian Litia Tikoisuva.
At the Aquatics Centre Temafa Yalimaiwai continued to have a strong meet after finishing the Men’s 200m Freestyle heat in third place with a time of 2:00.87, a new personal best (PB). Commenting afterwards, the Fijian said, “I've swam 3 events so far and 2 PBs, I'm really happy. After COVID I’ve just started training again, so the expectations coming into this competition were mixed, but I'm really thankful that I'm able to come in and still make PBs.”
Temafa also formed part of the four strong team that qualified for the 4x100m Men’s relay final. During the big event in the evening session the team finished with an impressive time of 3:31.46.
Rosemarie Rova is another competitor that had a strong day in the pool, competing in the Women’s 50m Freestyle where she came close to clinching a new PB. Surprised at the pace, Rosemarie said the support of her family really helps push her forward, “At the start of the year, I was away for about three months from my family and friends training, then afterwards, I hit a really rough spot mentally. And the fact that I'm just finishing these events, I'm really glad It's probably helped, maybe 80% of this competition to have my family here, and especially my sister's swimming with me, because she really understands how difficult it was for me to come all this way.”
Over at the Boxing, Jone Davule won their bout in the Men’s Over 54kg-57kg division. The Fijian won the closely fought contest 3-2 on judges scores, meaning he moved through to the next round.
Elsewhere, in the Lawn Bowls the Men’s Triples, Men’s Pairs and Women’s Fours all won their matches.
After maintaining a 100% record on day one of the Rugby 7s, Fiji’s Womens and Mens teams hoped to continue their impressive form. In their final group match of Pool B the Women beat Australia 19-12 to top their group and set up a semi final with Canada. During the contest to make it into the Gold medal match Reapi Ulunisau starred as she scored two tries and 12 points, as the team won 24-7 to progress.
The Women will go for Gold against Australia in the final, who they have already beaten during the competition.
In the Men's competition Ben Gollings team won their final group match vs Wales 38-24 to set up a Quarter Final tie versus Scotland. Captain Waisea Nacuqu led the team forward scoring 12 points and helping Fiji with 34 -7 to set up a semi final vs New Zealand tomorrow.
At the boxing arena in Birmingham, Betero Aaree was in the red corner as he took on Joseph Commey of Ghana in the Men’s Over 54kg - 57kg Featherweight division. In a hard fought contest, the Kiribati boxer gave it his all, as he attempted to reach the round of 16. Across the three rounds the judges' scores were close and the contest went down to the wire. As the final bell rang it was revealed that the winner on points was the competitor in the blue corner and Betero exited the competition at this stage.
For team Nauru, boxer Christon Amram took on boxer Charlie Senior in the Men’s 54kg-57kg Featherweight class, despite Birmingham being his first major international competition, Christon fought well but ultimately the judges awarded the win to the boxer from Australia.
Nauru had two athletes competing in Weightlifting today, the first was Shadrach Cain who took to the stage in the Men’s 61kg category. During the Snatch element of the competition Shadrach lifted 90kg, this was followed by 116kg in the clean and jerk, leaving the athlete with a total of 206kg.
My-Only Stephen featured in the Women’s 55kg final, lifting 68kg in the Snatch and 154kg in the Clean and Jerk, leaving them with a total of 222kg.
Niue Premier Dalton Tagelagi and his 14 year old son Tukala made up the teams Lawn Bowls Men’s pairs at the games and despite a defeat to Scotland in today’s group match, the Premier reflected on his time in Birmingham, “it's been enjoyable and I think it's the best that we can do. I think when playing the big guns, we do have bad times in comparison to professionals, but we did play well. This is my third Commonwealth Games, I thought my second one was my last, but then I had the young fella join the club, that's why I'm here.”
In the Lawn Bowls competition Shae Wilson maintained her 100% start to the Women’s Singles, with a close 21-18 win over South Africa’s Colleen Piketh. After a strong start by the South African, it was the athlete from Norfolk Island who prevailed to leave her sitting top of the table in group C.
The Women’s Four team made up of Ellie Dixon, Petal Jones, Essie Sanchez and skip Carmen Anderson made it three wins out of three as they beat Northern Ireland, meaning they are currently top of their group.
The Men’s Triple team campaign ended after a 31-10 defeat to Wales.
And on day one of the Lawn Bowls competition pair John Christian and Tim Sheridan had one win and one loss. Going into day two the pair suffered another loss to Nambia with the scoreline 19-12. Their group still has it all to play for and tomorrow when they face Wales, who currently sit top of the table.
Pacific Oceania won their first medal at the Commonwealth Games today, when Morea Baru from Papua New Guinea took home a silver medal in the 61kg category in the Weightlifting. Morea made light work of his first attempt in the snatch round lifting 114kg. His best being 121kg, leaving him in 2nd heading into the clean and jerk round.
Into the next round, the clean and jerk and the winner of the Male athlete of the Pacific Mini Games award; Baru’ put in a convincing first attempt and broke the Games record, guaranteeing him a medal. The Malaysian athlete, Aznil Bin Bidin Muhamad broke it straight away. After already lifting 152kg, Baru was going for Gold and had to jump up to 165kg in his second attempt but it was just too much for him. However, it was better than he was expecting, “I lifted 271kg in training so this is two kilos more so I’m very happy,” he said.
Speaking after the medal ceremony he spoke of his joy, “I'm very happy to win this silver medal. I feel like all my hard work has paid off. I thank God Almighty for giving me this medal.” He concluded by thanking those closest to him, “To all of Papua New Guinea, thank you for your support, especially my family, my wife and to my coach Paul Coffa, he’s been with us all the way. Lilly, his wife, Lilly Coffa. And also my national coach, Willie Thomas.”
Shortly after Morea’s medal ceremony it was the turn of compatriot Loa Dika Toua to take to the stage in the Women’s 49kg final and it was a closely fought contest. In the snatch section of the competition Loa's final attempt was her best with a weight of 74kg. Heading into the Clean and Jerk section they were just sitting outside of the medals. After lifting 96kg she finished with a combined total of 170kg, meaning she finished in fifth place.
Heading over to the Squash centre Amity Alarcos took on England’s Lucy Turmel in the Women’s Singles round of 32. After a hard fought match with plenty of feisty rallies, Amity unfortunately fell to a 3-0 defeat.
Last night saw Papua New Guinea swimmer Ryan Maskelyne reach the final of the 200m Breaststroke and today he was back in the pool, this time for the Men’s 100m Breaststroke.
Starting in lane 8 Ryan got off to a quick start with a reaction time of 0.67 seconds and after turning in first place he continued to pull away from the field and finished his heat first, with a new personal best, beating his previous that was set in 2020.
Compatriot Georgia-Leigh Vele went in the Women’s 50m Freestyle finishing third in her heat with a time of 27.80 seconds.
For the second day of competition in the Coventry Stadium, team Samoa were looking to secure their place in the Rugby 7s semi finals with a much needed victory over Sri Lanka. The team had an electric first half scoring 27 points with no reply from the opposition. Heading into the second half the team pushed on scoring a further 17 points to wrap up a convincing 44-0 performance. Paul Scanlan finished the match with 4 tries as the team set up a showdown with Australia that evening.
Well into the evening Samoa took on John Manenti’s men and narrowly lost their Quarter Final 7-0.
After setting a new national record in the pool with her teammates in the 4x100m Mixed Freestyle Relay yesterday, Lushavel Stickland started her individual campaign. At her second Commonwealth Games the 24 year old completed the Women’s 50m Freestyle, in a time of 28.08 seconds, before taking part in her second race of the session in the 100m backstroke. After touching the wall in a time of 1:07:51, Lushavel says she was pleased with her efforts for the day, “I think it is a pretty strong swim today. I haven’t been racing too much this year, as we’ve been through a few lockdowns in Melbourne where I live, so I think they were pretty solid times.”
Across the city in the NEC boxing ring Ato Leau Plodzicki took on India’s Sanjeet Sanjeet in the Men’s Over 86kg-92kg. In a close affair the Samoan came out on top with the judges awarding them the win.
Representatives from the Solomon Islands took to the streets of Birmingham this morning for the Men’s and Women’s Marathons. Martin Faeni finished 18th, and Sharon Firisua finished 15th in their respective events. Both athletes managed to achieve impressive personal best results, with Sharon shaving a 3 seconds off of her 2021 Tokyo Olympic performance.
In the morning session of today’s aquatic events, Wendy Lagwena Charles touched the wall sixth in the Women’s 50m freestyle event, beating her qualifying time by over a tenth-of-a-second.
At the NEC’s weightlifting competition, Philip Masi finished the day 6th in the Men’s 55kg category, with a total of 197kg.
Tonga continued their Rugby Sevens campaign today with a triumphant 31 - 7 win over Malaysia, with team captain Atieli Pakalani scoring 14 of those points alone. They went on to face Zambia in the evening session, with the scoreline finishing 19-7 when the whistle blew. Tomorrow, the team will return to the pitch for the final day of competition at Coventry Stadium to face Uganda.
This morning at Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Women’s 50m Freestyle hopeful Charissa Panuve was back in the pool and seeking to outdo her current personal best of 30.31s in the 2nd heat in a packed field of competitors. Despite being the quickest off the blocks, Charissa was just 4 hundreths-of-a-second shy of her goal, but was spirited in her post-race interview: “It’s quite hard to PB in the 50 metres and coming close to it is a little win, so I’ll take it.” She continued on to talk about the opportunity of the world stage: “It’s such an honour to come and wave my flag and represent my little island in the Pacific”.
In the heart of Birmingham City Centre, the Beach Volleyball competition got underway on day 2 of the Games. Tuvalu pair Saaga Malosa and Ampex Isaac, making their debut at the Commonwealths, took on home nation England’s Men’s team Javier and Joaquin Bello. With the crowd getting behind both teams, Saaga and Ampex made a strong start by taking the lead in the early stages of set one, but unfortunately the pair from England won the first set 21-10.
Tuvalu’s volleyball players made another quick charge in set two, however the tide turned and England won the second set 21-12, taking the match.
Next up for Malosa and Isaac in pool C are New Zealand pair Bradley Fuller and Sam O’Dea.
Vanuatu took on Uganda in their latest match as part of the Women’s Team Table Tennis qualification and despite their best efforts, Stephanie Qwea, Roanna Able and Tracey Mawa lost 3-0.
In 2018 Vanuatu’s Women’s Beach Volleyball team clinched a bronze medal and tomorrow sees medallist Miller Pata return to the court with their partner Sherysyn Toko, who is making their debut at the Commonwealth Games. The pair will take on Scotland in the first match for pool C.
And we send all of our well wishes to everyone in Vanuatu on their Independence Day.
After just two days of competition we’ve already seen multiple personal bests, national records and Pacific Oceania is on the medal table. Tomorrow our teams are in 8 sports, with dozens of our athletes taking centre stage and we can’t wait to see more of them inspire us all.
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