Nu’u Tuilefano from Samoa inserted her name into the Pacific Games history books after she shot to gold in the women’s shot put finals at Honiara’s National Stadium on Monday, setting a new Pacific Games record and personal best in the process.
She watched from the Sol2023 circle as the final 4kg shot she threw landed further and outside of the muddy spot where all the other throws had settled previously. The white flag went up, signalling that her final and biggest throw of 17.34 metres was legal, producing loud cheers from fellow competitors, the crowd and an ecstatic Tuilefano herself.
The proud Samoan broke the 18-year-old Pacific Games record of 16.92m set at the Palau 2005 Mini Games by Tonga’s ‘Ana Po’uhila.
Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, Tuilefano said: “First of all, I just to want to say it takes heart to just pop one out. I know that ‘Ata Maama (Tuutafaiva, Tongan shot put athlete and Samoa 2019 gold medallist) came with her fifth-round throw which bumped me down second (last time) and I knew for my last throw (here) I had to come with all my heart. That last throw was everything in me and it was also my PB (personal best) so I’m really glad I ended on that note”.
Winning gold also meant that she dethroned Tu’uatafaiva, Tonga’s women’s shot put gold medallist at Samoa 2019, bumping her into second place and silver.
Tuilefano who herself was the silver medallist at Samoa 2019, told the Pacific Games News Service that she was very satisfied with her performance on Monday and had a special dedication for her new gold medal.
“This is a very solid performance. I go to university in the States (USA), and I didn’t have a really good season so to end on this is a good season ending. It means everything, not just for myself but for all the children of Palestine as well, the children of Samoa, my family and this is not just for me but for everyone who couldn’t be here at this moment. I’m blessed to be here and blessed to be in this moment. Just being here is a blessing and I thank God for this,” she said.
New Caledonia’s Lesly Filituulaga finished, third throwing a final distance of 14.50m.
Overcoming a scare on the field to secure the bronze, Filituulaga noted that the level of the competition was high.
“I wasn’t expecting the Samoan to throw so well, because I knew the Tongan but not the Samoan and I had a bit of a scare. Fortunately, I managed to save myself at the end but I’m okay and feeling better now.”
She said her main objective is: “A podium and I was also hoping for a PB (personal best) but well, it didn’t come, and I did not manage to get it.
“I’m satisfied. I’m a little disappointed with my performance and the way I managed the competition, but the medal is there so I’m happy and when I look at the competition, yes, I am satisfied,” she concluded.
By Melissa Velvel Fare, Pacific Games News Service