A man winning a triathlon race

Tahiti’s triathlon stars look strong in qualifying heats

cropped AIL0181 | February 24, 2024
The Sol2023 triathlon has its swimming leg in the pool – a Pacific Games first. Photos: Danzo Kakadi, Pacific Games News Service

Tahiti’s reigning Pacific Games triathlon gold medallists, Salome De Barthez De Marmori and Benjamin Zorgnotti, will be looking to retain top spot in the women’s and men’s triathlons respectively on Thursday following strong performances in the qualifying heats on Wednesday.

Normally triathlon is run as a single race, but because of the unique setting at the Sol2023 Pacific Games where a pool is being used for the swimming leg, heats with staggered starts were run on Wednesday to reduce the field to nine for Thursday’s finals.

The surprise entries into Thursday’s women’s final who will be looking to clinch an upset are from Fiji – Charis Kwong, Katie Madison Pattie and Jonalese Vatubua.

Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, Fiji’s coach Angus Pattie said: “For most of our athletes these are their first Pacific Games and I’m really excited for tomorrow. Having all three girls in the final, they say once you’re in the final anything can happen, and we’ll see how they go.

“With Christian (Rokoua, in the men’s competition), he was in a very tough heat this morning alongside two of our other runners. He was the only one to make it through and we’re hoping he will learn from the heats and take it into the finals tomorrow,” Pattie added.

When asked if this will be Fiji’s first triathlon medal should they reach the podium at Sol2023, Pattie responded: “If all the stars line up and we manage to win, yes, it will be the first time to win a medal in the Pacific Games.

“This squad went to the Pacific Mini Games in the Northen Marianas in 2022 and we got a bronze in the teams triathlon and that was our very first medal. We’re hoping to take it one step further and win our first individual medal in the Pacific Games.”

Also in the women’s final on Thursday are Maidi Susset of Tahiti, New Caledonia’s Celine Hirzel and Manon Brasseur, Solomon Islands’ Andriana Tukuvia, and Samoa’s Urlin Mulitalo, who will both be looking rewrite their own destiny. 

In the men’s final, Zorgnotti will be looking to retain his title up against fellow countrymen from Tahiti, Nainoa Tanetoa and Jean Marc Rimaud.

The men’s final will also feature New Caledonia’s Thomas Prono and Mathieu Szalamacha, Fiji’s Rokoua, Darren Young from Samoa, Guam’s Jacob Torres and Solomon Islands’ Timson Jude Irowane.

The triathlon finals begin at 7am on Thursday.

By Walter Sale and Aaron Ballekom, Pacific Games News Service

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