Australia won both Sol2023 Pacific Games beach volleyball gold medals on the final day of competition at Honiara’s SIFF Academy on Saturday.
Having defeated favourites Vanuatu in the semi-final, Jana Milutinovic and Stefie Fejes triumphed in the women’s gold medal match, beating hosts Solomon Islands 2-0 (21-9, 21-10).
Fejes told the Pacific Games News Service: “Today’s win is such a great deal for me and my partner (Milutinovic), it’s an amazing feeling and we’re proud of this achievement.”
Australia’s Ben Hood and D’Artagnan Potts had to come back from one set down to beat this year’s surprise package, Tuvalu, 2-1 in the men’s gold medal match.
Hood said: “We’re happy with our performance and it’s a privilege to be here winning gold.
“We are grateful and thankful, and we will continue to keep playing as a team doing our best, and our future goal is to represent Australia in the Olympics Games.”
Australian coach Ruben Gile agreed their Sol2023 had been a huge success.
“I think as a big team coming into the Pacific Games, we couldn’t have asked for anything else, both teams persevered and did the job that they came to do,” he said.
“The boys played some very tough games mentally and today they showed great courage and resilience to come through by losing the first set, they persevered and stayed together to win the game and they did a very good job.
“This week has been awesome and Solomon Islands has done a great job in putting this event on and we are very thankful to be invited to this Pacific Games.”
Looking ahead to next year’s Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Gile said: “Hopefully we can dominate the Olympics in the coming years and be recognised as one of the powerhouses in this sport”.
Women’s bronze went to Vanuatu’s Majabelle Lawac and Sherysyn Toko, who overcame Fiji 2-0 (21-10, 21-9).
Northern Mariana Islands held off a strong second set display from Solomon Islands to win the men’s bronze medal match 2-0 (21-13, 21-15).
By Timothy Inifiri Jnr, Wilson Katovai and Lynnissha Runa, Pacific Games News Service