Isaac Pat Myrie spent eight years anticipating the chance to trade his Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games taekwondo silver medal for gold, and finally clinched Solomon Islands’ first ever taekwondo gold in the Sol2023 men’s -54kg finals at the Aquatic Centre on Wednesday.
His victory came against his former rival, Bobby Willie from Papua New Guinea, who claimed gold ahed of Myrie at Port Moresby 2015. Taking home the bronze in the same category was Thomas Ngo from New Caledonia.
An exhausted but overjoyed Myrie spoke told the Pacific Games News Service: “I’m just relieved and excited about the results. I really wanted to make my country proud.
“This is my second time in the Pacific Games, with my first in 2015 in PNG where I was unlucky and settled for silver against the same fighter today. I’m just relived that now I get to turn the tables around,” he said.
Solomon Islands coach Junior Maetia said: “This is the first gold for Solomon Islands in taekwondo and Isaac deserves this, he trained hard for it. He reached the final in 2015 and lost and this is like a rematch on our home ground.”
When asked if he may have shared any advice to Myrie before the final match, Maetia revealed: “I told him ‘this is our home ground, we are the host, don’t let them take away the medal from your neck, defend that gold because we are the host’”.
In total during Wednesday’s eight weight division final playoffs, the Solomon Islands squad, mainly composed of debutant fighters apart from Myrie, earned one gold, three silver, and two bronze medals.
Maetia, brimming with pride, also expressed relief about his other fighters, saying that all preparations had paid off.
In other notable fights on Wednesday, Benjamin Camua claimed gold in the men’s -58kg after defeating Solomon Islands’ Jarmine Scotaz, who settled for silver. The bronze went to New Caledonia’s Noah Souenon and Papua New Guinea’s Mou Paul.
In the men’s -63kg, Guam’s Leon Ho bagged the gold after defeating Fiji’s Richard Ming Shen Lin while Dereq Kassman from Papua New Guinea and Tahiti’s Monovai Maheahea both settled for bronze.
The men’s -74kg saw Tahiti’s Rahiti Iorss clinch the gold from the hands of Tonga’s Uhila Langi, who was forced to settle for silver. The bronze went to Baddeley Ludawane from Solomon Islands and Fiji’s Suliano Ieli.
Liam Sweeney from Australia took home the gold in the men’s -80kg category after a tough fight against Papua New Guinea’s Gerard Chare, who took home the silver, while Tivini Velente from Tahiti and Apisai Kururu from Fiii both walked away with bronze.
In the men’s -87kg Tyrone Staben from Australia claimed gold over a determined Raihau Mai Apa from Tahiti while Jimmy Rojie Fafale from Solomon Islands and Etekieru Kanimisu from Kiribati both settled for bronze.
In the final individual match of the day, Tahiti’s Manu Lao proved too strong for Solomon Islands’ Alafa Charlton who settled for silver. Papua New Guinea’s Vespa John and Tonga’s Vi Vaiangina both bagged the bronze.
Wednesday marked the end of the taekwondo medal matches at Sol2023. On Thursday, the Aquatic Centre will host the one-day Oceania qualification round, commencing at 9am.
By Aaron Ballekom, Pacific Games News Service