Tahiti showcased their dominance on the opening day of Sol2023 Pacific Games va’a on Monday, scooping gold medals in the V1 and V12-500m races at DC Park.
V1 features a single paddler in a boat, while V12 is a team of 12.
The paddling tournament commenced with the women’s V12-500m, where Tahiti snatched gold, finishing in 2 minutes, 22 seconds, followed by New Caledonia in just a blink of 4 seconds behind, settling for silver, and Fiji for bronze, finishing in 2 minutes, 32 seconds.
The men’s V12-500m race was a tough contest with finishing times seconds apart. New Caledonia crossed the line in 1 minute and 55 seconds claiming gold. Wallis and Futuna were seconds behind claiming silver, and Papua New Guinea (PNG) vying for bronze put up a spectacular race, but Tahiti sneaked their way past, finishing in 2 minutes and 1 second with PNG only a second behind.
In the men’s V1-500m, Taputu Temoana of Tahiti snatched gold in a Pacific Games record time of 2 minutes 23 seconds, followed by New Caledonia’s Legras Maels in 2 minutes 29 seconds. Andre Tutaka George of Cook Islands was lucky enough to make his hasty paddling way past Wallis and Futuna’s Tuauoifenua Jacky to claim bronze.
In the women’s singles V1-500m, Fiji’s Elenoa Vateiti bagged gold, finishing in 2 minutes 50 seconds, four seconds ahead of Samoa’s Anne Cairns. Bronze was claimed by Norfolk Island’s Ada Nabauer after a hard run against Mihinoaanaviaite Paari of Tahiti.
Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, newly crowned women’s champion Vateiti said: “All glory and praise go back to God above. The race today was really challenging, given the conditions at the outside lane, but thanks to His provision, I managed to come this far.
“Also, it was good to have other strong and powerful women from other Pacific Island countries besides me pushing me and giving me a good run for my money,” the Fijian added.
“Va’a is such a small sport back at home; to have to come here and put up such a performance is really reassuring for the sport in terms of progress and growth.”
Va’a will continue its races on Tuesday, with events until Thursday.
Countries participating are Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Tahiti.
By Elron Dokese and Glen Deni, Pacific Games News Service