New Zealand enjoyed gold and silver success in the men’s 1500m run, courtesy of Jack Paine and Liam O’Donnell respectively, in hot and humid conditions at the Sol2023 Pacific Games on Thursday.
Paine had a comfortable victory, setting the pace of the race from the moment the gun went off and maintaining a clear lead until he crossed the finish line. His winning time, 3 minutes and 50.97 seconds saw him run away with the Sol2023 Pacific Games men’s 1500m gold medal.
O’Donnell finished in 3:56.61, just a fraction ahead of Alex Beddoes of Cook Islands, who crossed the line in 3:56.88 to claim bronze.
Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, Paine alluded to missing out on gold in the 800m run as his motivation for this victory.
“I’m ecstatic. I came out in the 800m and got silver which was great but I was hungry, so I really came out here with a plan to execute – come out, make sure I hit my splits really hard and I was lucky enough to do that today in these really difficult conditions actually.
“There’s really a lot of heat, a lot of humidity but I’m just really proud of myself and really proud of the team support around me that gave me the possibility to perform like I did out there today.
“We’re always told ‘don’t look at the results, don’t look at the frosting (icing)’ as our team likes to say, but I mean the frosting is the best part so its good to come here and get some medals and go home to your family.”
Silver medallist Liam O’Donnell said: “I wasn’t feeling too great going into it but once I got out there and got started, running with the boys sort of felt good and I just went through the race how I planned.
“It feels really good to top the podium. We’ve worked really hard to get there and it has gone to plan. This is our last event. We’ve had the 800m at the beginning of the week so this is a good ending to the competition.”
Beddoes, the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games gold medallist in the men’s 1500m and 800m, did not have the easiest race on Thursday after suffering from food poisoning earlier in week, which forced him to withdraw from the men’s 800m event and put him in recovery mode all week. Beddoes managed to make enough of a recovery to compete in the 1500m and made it to the podium for bronze medal
Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service he said: “It was a pretty tough race; it was quite hot, but I have a few other things that I’ve had to overcome over the last few weeks in this build-up. But I was beaten by the better men on the day and it is what it is, so all credit to them. They ran really well, and I gave it everything I had today.
“I had to withdraw from the 800m. I got food poisoning the day before so that took me out of my first event, which was pretty gutting that it happened, but I just tried to recover and just do the best I can and just try and turn up today and try and feel good. I did feel good, I felt like I was ready, and I just gave it everything I had.
“Just to be able to bring back a medal is obviously a great moment for not just me but for the Cook Islands as well, so I’m glad I could at least do that, and I hope they’re all proud of that.”
By Melissa Velvel Fare, Pacific Games News Service