The Papua New Guinea quartet brought the heat again in the women’s 4x100m relay to close out their track and field campaign with another Sol2023 Pacific Games gold at Honiara’s National Stadium on Friday.
The same relay team that won gold in the 4x400m on Thursday night – Adrine Monagi, Isila Apkup, Edna Boafob and Leonie Beu – were unstoppable, their baton exchanges swift and legs almost flying off the racing track as they took their turns in the relay with pride.
PNG won with a time of 46.10 seconds ahead of New Caledonia (47.82) who came second just 12 hundredths of a second ahead of Fiji (47.94).
The Pacific Games News Service caught up with Brett Green, the proud coach of the Papua New Guinea athletics team who said: “That was an outstanding performance. The relays are always a bit of a risk of dropped batons and fouling other people and things like that so there’s always a risk of disqualification to start with or just mucking up a relay change and in 4×1 (4x100m) you muck up one change and you’re gone, and you drop out of medal contention very quickly.
“To go four from four (gold in 4x400m and gold in 4x100m both men and women) in the relays shows the depth in our programs and in our sprinters, which is fabulous,” he said.
Green also revealed that he is looking forward to the team celebrating their achievements at Sol2023.
“In terms of celebrations, we are looking forward to getting together as a team and recognising everybody and what they’ve done, and be thankful for the fact that they’ve been able to get here and represent PNG and a number of them are going home with medals, which is fabulous.”
As coach Green said he is “exceptionally proud”.
“I love working with them and I’ve done a lot of work in athletics in Australia with Australian teams as well, but these guys are all my family at the moment. I really love working with them and just seeing them come from where they started and some of their lives at home and that sort of stuff to come to something as big as this and achieving this is fabulous.”
The New Caledonia team of Ateliana Magoni, Loan Ville, Charlotte Michel and Esther Wejieme expressed relief in securing the silver medal.
Michel said: “We had the second fastest time behind, but not by much. We knew it was going to be tough to grab first place and we were neck and neck with Fiji. Indeed, it came down to very little and Esther made a very good effort in the final stretch, and it paid off.”
Wejieme said: “It really came down to it, but I too am very happy with our results and I’m really happy to be part of this team with the girls”.
In the Fiji team emotions were high and happy tears were shed by the young runners, mostly high school students, who were delighted to collect bronze.
Braelynn Yee spoke on behalf of the team and said: “We feel a bit speechless right now. My girls and I are a pretty young team. The majority of my team are three high school students and I’m the only university student.
“Our performance out there today was really good. We had a bit of expectation coming in for the gold medal as Fiji was winning the relays in 2015 and 2019 but I couldn’t be more proud of my girls’ performance today, coming out with the bronze medal. The girls are very happy so I give it back to them,” an emotional Yee told the Pacific Games News Service.
“I’m really proud of these girls and I just want to thank God almighty for this wonderful talent and these amazing, beautiful, talented young women and I hope we continue this journey together.
“We’ve got the Oceania Games next year in our home country (Fiji), we’ve got the mini Games, we’ve got the Pacific Games in Tahiti, so with this young squad, I’m sure we’ll come back better and stronger.”
By Melissa Velvel Fare, Pacific Games News Service