Fiji’s long-distance runner and 2022 Pacific Mini Games gold medalist, Yeshnil Karan, comfortably clinched gold in the Sol2023 Pacific Games men’s 10,000 metres at the National Stadium on Monday evening.
A confident, Karan, who declined to comment on his first gold medal at Sol2023 until after his final race on Saturday, clocked an impressive time of 32 minutes 32.30 seconds.
Settling for silver with a time of 33:48.60 was Guam’s Hugh Kent, a sole runner for his country in the race, who did not expect a winning result.
He told the Pacific Games News Service: “I’m very excited right now even though I can’t feel anything, I’m very numb after the race. I did not expect to have received the results and win silver tonight.”
When asked how he managed to push through the lines to overtake a very confident Papua New Guinea pack, Kent said: “Overall, I wasn’t thinking of my pace and what placement I was at. My idea was just to stick with the others, and once I saw they settled down, and I felt comfortable only then would I go. I was waiting for Karan to come over and overlap me, and from there I had someone to stick with in pace and it was very motivating.”
The 17-year-old also said winning silver in his first ever Pacific Games debut is a confidence-boosting start to his remaining events at Sol2023.
“This is my first Pacific Games, and I don’t usually run on a track for 10k. However, this win has really boosted my confidence and motivated me to win more medals in my upcoming races. I’m participating in the 5000 meters, which is usually what I’m comfortable in, and the half marathon.”
In third place and bagging the bronze with a time of 33:57.08 was Papua New Guinea’s Dilu Goiye Bob, who inched his way past fellow countryman and Samoa 2019 Pacific Games bronze medallist James Gundu.
An exhausted Bob said: “I’m really happy to win the bronze, my first-ever Pacific Games medal”.
The 10,000m record stands unbroken at 30:30.96, achieved by New Caledonia’s Alain Lazare during the 1989 South Pacific Mini Games in Nukualofa, Tonga.
By Aaron Ballekom, Pacific Games News Service