The women’s 100m ambulant race at Sol2023 saw all three medallists from the previous Games retain their positions on the podium at Honiara’s National Stadium on Tuesday night.
Rose Vandegou from New Caledonia, the reigning women’s 100m ambulant Pacific sprint queen, was the fourth runner to cross the finish line with a time of 18.70 seconds but managed to retain her golden crown after placing percentage calculations at the end of the race put her final percentage at 94.65 against her T/F41 classification.
In the ambulant category, Para athletes’ results are measured against their classification to determine their final placing percentage. A higher percentage closer to 100 indicates a better ranking and the highest ranked competitor at the end of the event is the winner.
“I did two months of preparation and I think that I am proud because I worked really hard. Now I am also training very hard to qualify for the Paralympics, that’s my goal,” a delighted Vandegou told the Pacific Games News Service.
Solomon Islands’ Jeminah Otoa was the silver medallist at Sol2023, just as she was at Samoa 2019…at a time when she was still looking four years into the future as she anticipated the excitement of the Pacific Games being hosted in Solomon Islands.
On Tuesday, she lived out her dream of competing for medals in front of a home crowd and was the second to cross the finish line with a time of 14.76 seconds and secured the second highest placing percentage of 80.55 against her T47/F46 classification.
She told the Pacific Games News Service: “Today is an amazing moment for me because I came second and I’m so excited that I can represent my country and my family in front of my people.
“For me it is a great honor to compete here, and I want to encourage other people like me to come along and join sport with me,” she said.
Marceline Moli from Vanuatu also retained her bronze medal, clocking a time of 14.94 seconds and a placing percentage of 79.58 against her T/F46 classification.
The Pacific Games News Service caught up with Moli, who is at Sol2023 to compete in only this event, and she said:
“I feel very happy. Although I didn’t go up in (podium) position since the Pacific Games in Samoa (2019), I also did not lose my position and I managed to keep my position with the bronze medal, so I am happy that I was able to do that.
“I felt that I probably could have raced better because I trained back home (in Vanuatu) and my aim was to get a medal. I did get a medal, so I achieved my goal which I am happy about, and I want to dedicate this medal to my family, my mum and dad, my supporters and sponsor and to the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee. I appreciate them a lot.
“I also want to tell people like me and other Para athletes to not be afraid of your abilities. I want to encourage them that having a disability does not mean that we only belong in our little corners in our homes. We all belong everywhere, and we can all do many different things including sport. Whether you are able-bodied or have a disability, we are all the same, so don’t look at your disability but look at your abilities,” she affirmed.
Sol2023 Para athletics events continue on Wednesday with the men’s shot put secured throw at 4.30pm and the women’s javelin throw ambulant at 6.30pm.
By Melissa Velvel Fare, Pacific Games News Service