Australia clinched four gold medals out of the eight weight divisions in the women’s taekwondo singles competitions at the Sol2023 Pacific Games on Tuesday while the host nation, with a fresh new team, claimed one silver and five bronze at the Aquatic Centre.
However, the standout battle of the day occurred in the women’s -53kg category, featuring Erika Jean Maetia, a newcomer from Solomon Islands, facing off against Tierra-lynn Chargualaf from Guam, the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games silver medallist.
To the crowd’s delight, Maetia drew first blood claiming the first round. The second round and third round saw an experienced Chargualaf narrowly come back to win first place.
Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, Chargualaf said: “It was a very difficult fight, and she (Maetia) was a very impressive fighter. She was good at tiring me out and I had to be strategic about when to block and hit.
“Winning the gold is an achievement for me and I’m glad to win it for my country. I believe this is my last competition and I will now focus on my career and making a living,” Chargualaf joked.
Despite setting for the silver, a very exhausted Maetia, said: “My match today with Guam was really tough. I tried my best and did not manage to make it. However, it was a very close match with just a two-point difference in the final round.
“I need to work on my movements and technical skills and be confident and strong for the upcoming Oceania Championships. I would like to thank my family, the fans here today and my country for supporting me through this competition.”
A very proud coach and father, Junior Maetia, said: “I’m excited about the girls’ results in the individual matches, we managed to win one silver and five bronze for our country (Solomon Islands). They are very new to competing in such big tournaments and it’s a first-time experience for them.
“I am confident they will only improve and build up from our mistakes. Nonetheless, I am really impressed with them for their efforts and winning medals for our country.”
In other notable wins today, Papua New Guinea’s Yvette Boyama secured gold in the women’s -46kg category after beating Fiji’s Tanisha Chand. Lyn Mevi Shandrea Nuala from Solomon Islands settled for the bronze.
In the women’s -49kg category, Australia’s Juliet Lahood bagged gold after a dominating performance over Tahiti’s Tiare Huaatua, while Solomon Islands’ Tenalyn Rove and Papua New Guinea’s Rose Tona both took home the bronze.
The women’s -57kg category saw Australia’s Stacey Hymer clinch gold after beating New Caledonia’s Lindsay Gavin, while Guam’s Amber Toves and Tonga’s Angel Sitapa both settled for bronze.
Tahiti’s Kawehi Iorss claimed gold in the women’s -62kg division after beating Lolohea Naitasi from Fiji. Solomon Islands’ Guthberta Kaeka and Papua New Guinea’s Fiona Johe both took home the bronze.
In the women’s -67kg category, Rebecca Murray from Australia claimed gold with an impressive victory over Tonga’s Pauline Lolohea, while Stella Lisa from Solomon Islands and Uriamteiti from Kiribati both added a bronze to their nation’s medal tally.
Rautitea Hiritea Tepea from Tahiti won gold in the women’s -73kg division after a decisive win over Kiribati’s Ketty Ataia, who was forced to settle for silver. Bagging the bronze were Patricia Kulunia from Papua New Guinea and Moddie Foufaka from Solomon Islands.
In the final women’s singles match of the day, Australia’s Reba Stewart secured gold after an impressive win over Tahiti’s Hinavai Tepea, while Papua New Guinea’s Enila Soma and Fiji’s Venice Traill both settled for bronze.
With the women’s events all wrapped up, Wednesday will see all the men’s singles and teams events at Friendship Hall. The action begins at 9am.
By Walter Sale and Aaron Ballekom, Pacific Games News Service