Kayak athletes from Samoa, Tahiti and New Caledonia made history as the first to claim gold medals in this newly introduced water sport event at the Pacific Games at DC Park on Tuesday.
Iloha Eychenne of Tahiti claimed two golds, first in the women’s K1-500m and the second haul with teammate Sommer Nateahi in the K2-500m team event.
Samoa claimed silver in the women’s K2-500m team event, while New Caledonia secured bronze.
Speaking with the Pacific Games News Service, Eychenne said she was was pleased with the outcome of the race today.
“Today the race was easier than the other day because it’s flat, so it’s easier to sprint on the flat water, unlike bumpier water yesterday. But it was a really good race—a good challenge with the Samoa girl.
“I’m proud of the Tahitian Federation that deserved it.
“It was my first time to attend a Pacific Games event, so the introduction of kayaking into the games was a nice challenge,” the gold medallist said.
In the men’s K1-500m, Clifton Tuva’a of Samoa paddled away with gold, Nohoai’i Thu’au of Tahiti grabbed silver, and George Tutaka Andre from Cook Islands settled for bronze.
Clifton revealed that the race was one of the toughest he had done in his life.
“It’s the first time that kayaking has been included in the Games, so I’m really honoured to be the first winner of the individual race,” he told the Pacific Games News Service.
“I live and train in New Zealand, so it’s a bit cold there. And coming here, it took a few days to acclimatise.
“I didn’t know if I was going to acclimatise in time, but hats off to the Solomon people; they’re really lovely people, always willing to help out in anything.
“Whenever I need help, they are there at the drop of a hat to get it done, and for sure, they really helped me in the race.”
New Caledonia claimed gold in the men’s K2-500m final, with Tahiti taking home silver and host nation Solomon Islands making history with their first bronze medal in kayak.
K1 races feature one paddler in the kayak, while K2 have two athletes paddling together.
More kayak events will unfold at DC Park on Wednesday, with events in the K1 marathon (16 km) for both men and women.
DC Park is a non-ticketed venue, so Honiara residents and supporters are encouraged to attend and witness the on-water skill and speed of kayak events.
By Willie Fafale and Jaylyn Ernest, Pacific Games News Service