A great day for Oceania women on the track

Saturday, August 04, 2012

By Matt Bowcott of The Reporters’ Academy
With the Olympics in full motion, it was time for the athletics competition to being on Day 7 of the 30th Olympiad. The second event on the track was the Women’s 100m Preliminary round, with 9 Oceania women vying for a place in the first round against 24 other athletes.
With the four heats getting underway, the packed 80,000 seated stadium cheered for the athletes as they walked to their blocks. Athletes from around the world were in one stadium, for one chance at Olympic competition.
In heat one, Bamab Napo and Kaingaue David of Tonga and Kiribati, were set with Bamab finishing 3rd in a time of 12.24 seconds and Kaingaue finishing 8th with 13.61 seconds, both new personal bests. In heat two Asenate Manoa of Tuvalu, sprung out of the blocks to a time of 13.48 seconds, 7th in her heat, and a new National Record. Three Oceania athletes were in the starting line-up for heat 3, Taea Patricia of the Cook Islands, Pauline Kwalea of the Solomon Islands and Rubie Joy Gabriel of Palau, the three finished in 3rd, 5th and 7th respectively, Taea’s time of 12.47 was a season’s best, Pauline set a new personal best with a time of 12.90 and Palauan sprinter Rubie followed with a personal best of 13.34. Solomon Island athlete Pauline commented; “A new PB is great, I loved it out there I wasn’t nervous and the Crowd were great.”
In the 4th and final heat of the day Janice Alatoa of Vanuata finished 6th in the heat with a time of 13.60, followed by Mihter Wendolin of the Federated State of Micronesia just 700th of a second down. In terms of performance the best was saved until last with Wisil Toea of Papua New Guinea finishing 1st in heat 4 and fastest qualifier going straight through to Round 1 in a time of 11.60 seconds. Wisil from PNG said “Its great to be in the next round, it was a great atmosphere and I know I can get even faster for the next round.”
Six out of the nine women athletes set personal bests, season bests or national records, it is a positive result for the Pacific Islands and not least the athletes themselves.
Having followed a clear structure of preparation for these Games with a range of training camps and use of facilities and resources it is interesting to hear from those behind the scenes how this has aided the athletes.
From a coaching aspect Tovia Tovia coach for Tuvalu reflected on the effect of his team training in the North west of the UK, “We are really happy with Asenate, everyone in Tuvalu is proud and I think the training camps in the Northwest really helped.”
Likewise, Dr Robin Mitchell Secretary General of Oceania National Olympic Committees and IOC member said “It is really positive to see all the Oceania athletes compete well on a world class level, and I think the North West facilities was a great advantage to the countries.”
Whilst the eyes of the world are focussed on the major powers of the track and the fractions of seconds which decide the medal positions it is worth noting that the female sprinters of the Pacific Islands are making great strides towards stepping up to the elite level of Olympic competition.