A woman winning a race

Tania Tan of NMI scoops another gold in the women’s 10,000m

cropped 10000m 2 | May 18, 2024
The medallists in the women’s 10,000m. Photos: Rhianto Manuga, Pacific Games News Service

Having barely recovered from her gold medal-winning performance in the women’s 5000m on Monday, Northern Mariana Islands’ Tania Tan scooped another gold in the women’s 10,000m at Honiara’s National Stadium on Wednesday.

The race kept fans on the edge of their seats for its entire 39 minutes, despite the disappointing absence of national hero and defending champion Sharon Firisua due to illness.

The early laps saw the second oldest runner in the race, 40-year-old Deborah Kaboer of New Caledonia, leading the pack in a steady show of confidence. However, the real excitement unfolded in lap 15 when Tan made a remarkable comeback, seizing the lead from there on.

As the laps progressed, Tan held her ground, with Kaboer and Solomon Islands’ Dianah Matekali in pursuit. The trio maintained this dynamic for the next three laps until Matekali made a late, impressive surge into second place, securing a strong position. The trio dominated the race until the final lap, with Tan crossing the finish line comfortably in first place in 39 minutes and 45.62 seconds.

Matekali followed in 40:16.42 and Kaboer crossed third for bronze in 40:50.30.

An ecstatic Tan told the awaiting media: “I woke up this morning and said, ‘how am I gonna run today? I cannot even get out of bed’. But I was like, ‘you can do it for your island, my country…you came all this way and even missed school, it is almost finals week’ (university exams). So I was like, ‘you need to run hard, try your best’.

“I had some issues during the race but I said ‘no Tania, you have to push through’ so I kept going and eventually I got here which was good, and then I ended up coming first.”

Matekali’s silver medal marks a significant improvement from her third-place finish in this event at Samoa 2019.

The 36-year-old told the Pacific Games News Service: “I’m happy with my performance but I could have done better if it wasn’t for my injury. I wanted to pick up after the first few rounds but the injury would not allow me to. So I patiently controlled my nerves and eventually make it to the finish line”. 

Conspicuously, the next three finishing spots were secured by skilled runners from Tahiti, emphasising the country’s noteworthy presence in the contest.

By Peter Psalm and Lamantha Lano, Pacific Games News Service

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