The 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham officially comes to a close today and our athletes have inspired us all over the last 11 days of competition. Our Pacific Island nations have won 13 medals over 13 sports, broken dozens of personal bests and made history for their nations. Everyone will now start reflecting on competing at the ‘friendly’ Games. Here are some of Pacific Oceania’s highlights.
The team from the Cook Islands was 18 strong with athletes competing across 5 sports.
One of the standout stars for the country was 16 year old sensation Lanihei Connolly who had an incredible competition. Making her debut at the Games on day 1 she broke her personal best and reached a semi-final. In her individual events the teenager set 4 new personal bests, a new National record and reached two semi-finals.
Lanihei wasn’t the only swimmer in the pool that impressed, Bede Aitu swam a new personal best when he competed in the Men’s 50m Backstroke, finishing in a time of 27.89 seconds and followed this up with a new PB in the Men’s 200m backstroke.
Looking to the future, Lanihei said, “I'm excited to see the future of Cook Island swimming to see where it can go. I know there is good support there, so it looks good.”
Plus, the quartet of Bede Aitu, Kirsten Fisher-Marsters, Lanihei Connolly and Wesley Roberts made history in the pool as they were the first ever relay team for the Islands, as they took part in the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay.
Over at the Lawn Bowls greens, the athletes performed well throughout the tournament with a number of impressive wins, this culminated in the Women’s Triples of Emily, Teokotai and Tiare Jim finishing top of their group with a 100 percent win record and reaching a bronze medal play off with New Zealand.
Not only was 23-year-old Weightlifter Manine Lynch one of the breakthrough stars in the Games, so was her dad, who announced a special message for his daughter before she competed in the Women’s 87kg+ Weightlifting Final. Manine’s Dad told the compere in the arena, “we love you Manine and sending you all the power.” The power certainly helped as Manine performed well in her final, finishing in 7th place.
The Cook Islands have had a successful games and Chef de Mission John Paul Wilson had this to say on the overall performance, “the sport has been really awesome. Our athletes have learnt a lot, for them it is the experience and participation that they will be taking back from the games. This is one of the biggest stages in the world for sport and we are happy that we are here.”
The 64 strong squad of Fiji left Birmingham with a total of four medals across three sports.
The first medals of the games for the team came on day 2, in the Rugby 7s, an event both the Men’s and Women’s teams were one of the favourites to medal in. Both the Women’s and Men’s teams headlined a stellar final line up for Rugby 7s, and both teams had a 100% record in the group stages of the competition, including a 41- 0 victory against South Africa for the Women’s team and a 52-0 win for the Men’s side against Zambia.
The teams both took home Silvers in their respective competitions and will be coming back in 2026 with the ambition of taking home the Gold.
The country's third medal of the Games came in the Weightlifting arena, Taniela Rainibogi in a highly competitive field in the Men’s 96 kg Weightlifting final and claimed a well earned bronze medal in the Men’s 96kg Final. For the Fijian, the bronze medal was a new benchmark for Weightlifting in the country and Taniela hoped it could inspire the next generation of lifters, “this medal is more than just a medal, it is something for Fiji weightlifting, we have kids back at home and I hope I can pass on some advice.”
Naibili Vatunisolo added the final medal to Fiji’s medal tally when she won a bronze in the Women’s Discus Throw F42-44/61-/64. The Fijian’s third round attempt of 23.70m was her furthest throw and sealed the medal. Not only does Naibili go home with a medal but a new personal best.
There was also success for Fiji in other sporting arenas, swimmer Temafa Yalimaiwai had a strong meet after finishing the Men’s 200m Freestyle heat in third place with a new personal best, his second of the individual competition. In the pool sisters Rosemary and Cheyenne Rova had some quality swims in the pool, getting close to their personal bests.
The Men’s team also qualified for the final of the 4x100m Men’s relay in the pool.
At the University of Birmingham’s Hockey and Squash centre, Fiji’s Marika Matanatabu got through to the final 8 of the Men’s Singles Squash Plate competition.
Leamington Spa is home to the Lawn Bowls competition for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and both the Women's Fours teams of Radhika Prasad, Losalini Tukai, Loreta Kotoisuva and skip Sheral Mar and the Men’s Triples team of Martin Fong, David Aitcheson and Semesa Naiseruvati competed for bronze medals. Both teams finished in 4th.
Team Fiji’s Chef de Mission Sale Sorovaki had this to say on the team's performance, “we came away with four medals, two silver and two bronze. All in all the athletes have done the best they could, we’ve been here for up to three weeks now. We’re very excited and there is lots of learning, we are now looking forward to returning home.”
Ruben Katoatau returned to the Commonwealth Games after a 6th placed finish in the Gold Coast. Out of all the athletes in the Men’s 67kg Weightlifting final Ruben was the only one to maintain a clean card for his entire competition, as he lifted 114kg in the snatch and 144kg in the clean and jerk. The Weightlifter matched his Gold Coast result of 6th place.
The team's athlete Lataisi Mwea made his debut at the Games, as he raced on the track at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, in the Men’s 100m. The 22-year-old completed his heat in 11.33, just over 0.1 off his personal best.
Kiribati had a four strong boxing team made up of Featherweight Betero Aaree, Flyweight Eriu Temakau, Light Welterweight Timon Aaree and Welterweight Toaua Bangkee.
All the boxers gave it their all in their bouts and hopefully we will see some of them return in Victoria 2026.
In total Kiribati selected 6 athletes to compete in three sports at this year’s Commonwealth Games.
Nemani Tebana, Chef De Mission for Kiribati said, “The boys have had a wonderful experience here in Birmingham - from the food and accommodation to the competition venues and equipment. We did what we came to do, to give our best. This is not the end and we will definitely learn from our mistakes, accept our shortfalls and improve to be a better and stronger squad.
These Games have opened up our eyes to the gap in skills and experience between us in the Pacific and our brothers and sisters from around the world. To beat the best, you need to train amongst the best and experience what they experience. We as small sporting nations cannot rely on physical strength alone, we need continuous technical and infrastructural development and more importantly, the support of our Governments in order to close this gap and to be on par with the elite athletes.
Thank you, Birmingham, for an excellent and memorable Commonwealth Games 2022.”
Since Nauru has been in the Commonwealth Games, they have won a medal at every one and at these 2022 games they carried on that tradition.
On day five of the games, it was 19-year-old Weightlifter Maximina Uepa, who kept that tradition alive as she won a memorable bronze medal in the Women’s 76kg competition.
The teenager started strong in the snatch element of the competition, as her highest lift was at 96kg to leave her in joint third place. During the second half of the competition the athlete cleared 119kg to cement her position on the podium and take home a bronze to Nauru.
Commenting on her performance Maximina said, “I’m really happy and proud of what I have done.”
For team Nauru, boxer Christon Amram was competing in his first major international competition and did his country proud as he took on Australian Charlie Senior in the Men’s 54kg-57kg Featherweight class.
In the Women’s 100m heats Wena Gobure crossed the line in a time of 13.21, this was followed by Jireh Agege in the Men’s 100m, the quickest athlete off the blocks during his heat to finish with a time of 11.08 seconds. Both athletes got personal best times.
Lowe Bingham was Nauru’s only Wrestling entrant in the Men’s Freestyle 65kg 1/8 final as he went head-to-head with Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia. After his first round Lowe reflected on competing at the Games and what it means for Nauru wrestling, “it’s a good experience for me and I know I need to do more to develop. I’m the first Nauru wrestler and I’ve been trying to find a coach as I’ve been self-training a lot, I’ve been travelling the world to try and develop some more so we can have a brighter future.”
Across 4 sports Nauru had 18 athletes at the games.
Chef De Mission for the team Leona Waidabu said, “I love the part that the tradition of Nauru winning medals in the Commonwealth Games has not stopped and I hope it continues. I am so happy that all the athletes from my team did their best and went above all their personal bests. Their efforts were tremendous and I am so proud to be Team Nauru’s CDM here in Birmingham. On behalf of Team Nauru I would like to take the time to thank the host and hats off to the job well done.”
Niue made its debut at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and it has never won a medal yet. All that changed in Birmingham, as Duken Holo Tutakitoa-Williams secured the country's first ever medal.
After beating fellow Pacific Oceania nation the Cook Islands in the Heavyweight division quarter final, Duken had guaranteed at least a bronze medal as he headed into the semi-final bout against Samoan Ato Leau Plodzicki-Faoagali. It was a close bout with both boxers giving it their all to get into the final, Duken won the first round of the bout according to a majority of the judges, his opponent secured the next two, meaning it was bronze for Niue.
Duken’s name is now in the record books and after his bout he hoped his win could help the future of sport in Niue. “I know everyone back home is proud of me. I’ve heard I’m the talk of the nation and it means a lot to me to represent Niue. I hope any Niuean who wants to follow in my footsteps and make the nation proud, should go for it.”
At Victoria Park, home of the Lawn Bowls, Niue had 10 athletes competing across the various categories, including the nation's Premier Dalton Tagelagi. Alongside the country’s leader was his 14-year-old son Tukala who has been helping inspire the next generation of Lawn Bowlers.
The teenager has put in strong performances throughout the Men’s Singles and Men’s Pairs competition to show that he has the calibre to compete on an international stage like the Commonwealth Games.
14 athletes were a part of Niue’s contingent that took part in Boxing and Lawn Bowls.
A ten strong contingent made up team Norfolk Island, all competing in Lawn Bowls. The team featured 1996 World Champion Carmen Anderson who was competing in the Women’s Pairs and Women’s Fours.
The Women’s Fours Ellie Dixon, Petal Jones, Essie Sanchez and skip Carmen Anderson topped their group with a 100% record and reached the quarter final of their competition.
On day 4 of the Women’s singles draw, teacher Shea Wilson headed into the Women’s Singles Lawn Bowls semi-final with a perfect record, after wins in her group and the quarter final. Flag bearer Shea was on the centre rink, as she took on Australian Ellen Ryan for a place in the Gold medal match and after losing her match she moved into the Bronze medal match later in the day.
Shea ultimately finished 4th in the competition and said, “to be able to get to a medal match, and represent my island playing bowls was a really cool opportunity.”
The pairing of Carmen Anderson and Shea Wilson finished level on points in their group with leaders Malaysia, who took top spot because of a greater score difference. They still were able to qualify and got as far as the quarter finals. A great achievement.
The 2022 Norfolk Island team had some strong performances across their ten athletes, and we know that their performances will help inspire more to get into the sport.
At the Games team PNG had 34 athletes, 22 of which were making their debut at these games. It was a great start for the team as swimmer Ryan Maskelyne made the first final of the games on day 1 in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke. In the evening session at Sandwell’s Aquatic Centre, Ryan was drawn in lane 8 and finished in a time of 2:16:98.
Ryan said on the achievement of getting to a final, “my whole goal at this meet was to get Papua New Guinea’s flag back into the finals at the Commonwealth Games and I'm so happy I've done that.”
PNG also had the first medal at the Games for Pacific Oceania when Morea Baru took home a silver medal in the Men’s 61kg Weightlifting. Morea’s best attempt in the snatch was 121kg, leaving him in 2nd heading into the clean and jerk round.
During the clean and jerk he managed 152kg and after collecting his medal he had this to say, “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.”
In the boxing PNG saw more success as the country’s flag bearer John Ume beat Malawi’s Elias Bonzo in the Men’s Over 60kg-63.5kg light welterweight division, unfortunately due to injury John had to withdraw from the next round.
Over at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre Feonor Siaguru and Madako Suari were in the Squash Men's Double Plate semi-final.
On the Athletics track there were a whole host a PBs for the team, the Women’s 4 x 100m relay quartet of Adrine Monagi, Toea Wisil, Isila Apkup and Leonie Beu crossed the line in a time of 45.38 seconds, a new personal best for the nation. Heptathlete and Decathlete Edna Boadab and Iga Karo both set multiple personal bests across their two days of competition, including new overall PBs.
On the expectation coming into the Games for team PNG Michael Henao, the Chef de Mission says, “In any games all teams will always aim for medals, we always talk about medals. For me as Chef de Mission the most important thing for me was nation building. Just over 12 months ago we lost our Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare and at the present moment Papua New Guinea is going through a general election. I’ve approached these games with a broad view as to what team PNG can do off the field. We’ve seen that the work we are doing has resonated with everyone in Papua New Guinea and around the world, sports is a unifying factor.”
Michael adds, “Papua New Guineans had really risen to the challenge at these Games, our swimmer Ryan Maskelyne broke two national records, so we are swimming faster. We had season bests from our athletes so we are running faster, we are getting better at what we do. There are little tweaks we need to make, nothing will ever be perfect. Coming into these games I wasn’t focused on medals but the unification of Papua New Guinea.”
It was a golden Games for team Samoa as one of their stars Don Opeloge joined the esteemed Weightlifting hall of fame for his family and his country on day 5 of the competition.
After being one of the favourites for top spot Don smashed the Games record in the snatch with a weight of 171kg. This was followed up by another Games record, this time in the clean and jerk with a 210kg.
The new Commonwealth Champion had this to say after his medal ceremony, “I’m so excited, it was a big Commonwealth competition and we made it. I know the Commonwealths are really hard. I was so excited for that final lift when I won the gold. I feel more powerful to go on and achieve even more.”
That wasn’t the only medal the Opeloge family took home to Samoa, Don’s younger brother Jack took to the stage, in the Men’s 109kg Weightlifting. Jack had an impressive opening first half as he successfully lifted 155kg, 160kg and 164kg to lead the field by 1kg. In the clean and jerk Jack cleared the weight of 194kg to secure his silver medal.
Feagaiga Stowers, the reigning Commonwealth Champion was in the Women’s 87+kg Weightlifting final and after a clearance of 117kg for the snatch, the Samoan was in a good position to be back on the podium. During the clean and jerk Feagaiga successfully lifted 147kg to finish in Silver medal position.
Another medal came for Samoa on the final day of the Games, as Ato Plodzicki-Faogali was in the Gold medal match in the Men's boxing Heavyweight division. Ato got past fellow Pacific Oceania boxer Duken Holo Tutakitoa-Williams from Niue in his semi-final; and in his final bout of the tournament it was England's Lewis Williams in his way for gold.
It was an evenly matched contest, with the judges awarding the win to the Englishman, with Samoa’s Ato taking home Silver and bringing the teams total medal tally to four in Birmingham.
There was also huge success for athletes across other sports, as Samoa had 37 athletes in 7 sports.
On the track sprinter William Angliss Hunt set a new personal best of 10.70 when he finished his 100m heat. Kolone Alefosio was impressive in the Men’s 110m Hurdles as he glided over the barriers in a personal best of 14.78.
There were also impressive times in the pool as Olivia Borg became the first ever Samoan swimmer to reach a swimming final when she swam in the Women’s 50m Fly with a time of 27.42seconds. In her semi-final later in the evening Olivia finished with a quicker time of 27.37 seconds. Kokoro Frost set a new personal best in the Men’s 50m Butterfly heats, before he helped set more history for Samoa when Kokoro, Brandon Schuster, Olivia Borg and Lushavel Stickland were the first ever team for Samoa, in the 4 x 100m Mixed Freestyle Relay.
Chef De Mission for team Samoa, Dengue Soonalole-Sam Chong, “From my perspective, Samoa’s biggest highlights apart from winning 1 gold and 4 silvers was our athletes being on the world stage and competing at such a high level. Some that didn’t medal came away with personal bests”
Team Solomon Islands competed in 8 sports with 20 athletes taking part in games.
On day two of the games Martin Faeni and Sharon Firisua took to the streets of Birmingham to race in the Men’s and Women’s Marathons. Martin finished 18th, and Sharon Firisua finished 15th in their respective events. Both athletes managed to achieve impressive personal best results, with Sharon shaving 3 seconds from her 2021 Tokyo Olympic performance.
Team Solomon Islands had two athletes qualify for the Triathlon competition. The sprint distance race saw Andriana Tukuvia finish 31st in the women’s race and Timson Jude Irowane crossed the finish in 44th in the men’s race.
The team had four athletes compete in the various Table Tennis competitions at the games, which saw Connie Difi, Noela Olo and Gary Nuopula compete. All the players gave every match their all and should be proud of their efforts.
Leslie Pandabela was the only judoka in action for Solomon Islands at the Games, as he competed in the -73kg category. The judoka exited the competition in the round of 16 but had plenty of positives to take away from the tournament, “It's my first Commonwealth Games and second international match. It's a good experience to meet the top fighters from all around the world. To bring my judo career and experience to the next level. So, I really appreciate the experience of this tournament.”
Boxer Lele Pemberton gave it his all as he went head-to-head with PNG athlete Neville Warupi in the Men’s Over 63.5kg-67kg. It was a tight contest with several judges saying Lele edged some of the rounds but unfortunately Neville was declared the winner.
Despite the result the boxer from Solomon Islands was upbeat, “This is my first time at the Commonwealth Games so I'm really proud of what I have done. It's more like a high level for me because I'm actually just entering international competition. So I'm very happy.”
For the teams last event of the games Women’s 5000m runner Dianah Matekali took to the track in the long distance event and crossed the finish line in a time of 19:06.80, a new personal best, beating her previous one by 14 seconds.
Team Solomon Islands Helen Aumae had this to say on the performance of the team, “From a management's perspective, we are very proud of our team for giving their best in the competition. Most of them are first timers and providing them the opportunity to have an experience at such a high level competition as the Commonwealth Games is a bonus for them moving forward.”
Across six sports, team Tonga was represented by 28 athletes.
Off the back of a strong World Championships where she secured two personal bests, swimmer Charissa Panuve had a busy meet. In the Women’s 50m Freestyle Charissa Panuve was just 4 hundreths-of-a-second shy of her personal best time. The Tongan followed this up with a new PB in 50m Butterfly heat, when she finished first in a heat with a time of 32.56 seconds.
Charissa wasn’t the only swimmer to finish the games with a PB, Alan Koti Lopeti finished his Men’s 50m Freestyle with a time of 24.92. Finau Ohuafi competed in the Men’s 100m Freestyle and finished in a time of 54.51. After the race Finau said “I’ve done a PB and I'm happy with that. I think it is close to one of my best experiences”, and that he was “proud to represent my nation here”.
At Birmingham’s Athletics stadium 24-year-old sprinter Ronald Fotofili, who made his debut in the Commonwealth Games, finished his 100m heat in a time of 10.80, a new personal best and for him being part of team Tonga means a lot, “I’m very happy to have a new personal best and so proud to represent my country.”
On the field Shot Putter Ata Maama Tuutafaiva qualified for the Women’s Shot Put final, where she finished in tenth position with a new season’s best distance of 16.30m.
In the Weightlifting 87+kg final, Kuinini Manumua had a great competition as she had a new personal best in the snatch as she lifted 107kg and a personal best for the overall competition after she lifted 128kg to finish in 5th position. After her competition Kuinini said, “I feel amazing and I’m really pleased with the performance. I had a personal best snatch and personal best overall total for the competition, I couldn't be more happy.”
Over at Coventry Arena, home to the Wrestling Tiger Lily Cocker Lemalie was in the Women’s Freestyle 68kg. The wrestler beat her quarter final opponent Tithy Roy from Bangladesh 10-0 to wrap up the match.
Tiger Lily set up a semi-final against Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria and after defeat she headed into the Bronze medal match against India’s Divya Kakran. Tiger Lily finished the competition in 4th place.
Tuvalu had five athletes competing in these games across three different sports.
In the athletics stadium 23-year-old Karalo Kepoiteloto Maibuca took part in the Men’s 100m heats. and finished in 6th position with a time of 11.39, a new personal best.
These games are a perfect place for athletes to get experience on an international stage, Karalo said, “a new PB, that's awesome, that was my aim. I just can't wait to go back to training again and come back with an even better time.”
After making its debut in 2018, Beach Volleyball was back, and Tuvalu made its debut in the Games.
Saaga Malosa and Ampex Isaac arrived in Birmingham to show off their skills in their group matches that certainly showed they could compete.
Ampex Isaac, reflected on the team's experience “It was quite interesting, enjoyable. Also, we’re so excited to be competing at this level, it’s our first time. This has been the biggest event for us, the Commonwealth, for the first time. We’ve been competing in the Pacific Games or only in the Pacific region, it’s been great to be here with everyone, with all the other Commonwealth countries.”
The 22 strong Vanuatu team competed in seven sports across Birmingham.
They backed up their bronze medal in the Women’s Beach Volleyball at 2018 Gold Coast games with a medal of the same colour in the same event.
Miller Pata this time partnered Sherysyn Toko as they flew through their group games, not dropping a set until their semi-final versus Australia. The duo had shown their class throughout the entire tournament and went for the bronze against New Zealand.
Their opponents New Zealand were dominant in the first set to win it 21-10. Vanuatu’s team stepped up a gear in the second set as they went toe to toe in the crunch match, with both teams having their own set points it was Vanuatu who capitalised and took the set.
For the final set it was Vanuatu who dominated the game, which was the first to 15, thrilling the crowd as they took the set 15-10 to claim the medal.
Day 5 of the Games saw 17-year-old sprinter Chloe David take to the track in the Women’s 100m heats. With a packed-out crowd in the stands, Chloe powered down the straight to cross the line with a time of 12.60, a new PB, which she set only a few months ago. After the race Chloe said, “I’m so proud of myself for reaching this stage, it is such a good experience being out here and one of my aims coming into my for international games was to get a PB and that's what I’ve done.”
On the next day Chloe David backed up her performance in the 100m when she took to the track in the 200m heats. With a reaction time of 0.183 seconds, the young star was explosive out of the blocks and made her way around the bend onto the 100m straight, she crossed the line in a time of 26.75 seconds, just shy of her personal best of 26.52, she set earlier this year.
Obediah Timbaci was in 200m action in the Men’s 200m heats and the teenager impressed as he ran 23.45, close to his personal best of 23.32.
Birmingham’s NEC played host to the Para Powerlifting Women’s Heavyweight Final that included Vanuatu’s Elie Enock. All the athletes get three lifts and the winners are determined based on who lifts the heaviest weight. Elie had three attempts at 68kg and was successful on her third attempt.
In the Weightlifting Ajah Pritchard-Lolo competed in the Women’s 87kg final, her heaviest lift was 78kg in the snatch and she followed this up with a clear round in the clean and jerk, with 100kg being her heaviest lift, meaning she finished in 8th place.
At the end of these special Commonwealth Games, we want to say, from everyone at The Reporters’ Academy thank you to the Pacific Oceania athletes, team officials and supporters, who have all made these games one to remember. We can’t wait to see what is next for all ur athletes in Victoria in 2026.
For more information please visit:
ONOC’s dedicated page for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games stories
The Oceania National Olympic Committees
The BIRMINGHAM 2022 Commonwealth Games
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