Gear up, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for an action-packed week of sports action at the Sol2023 Pacific Games from Monday 27 November to Saturday 2 December in Honiara.
Sol2023, the biggest edition of the Pacific Games to date, will see a massive 400 athletes from 22 countries and territories taking part in 29 track and field events.
This year’s athletic event promises to be one of the most competitive, with a host of athletes from 13 competing countries fresh from the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, and also hungry for medals in Honiara.
The Para component of athletics will also be the largest ever at a Pacific Games, with 50 athletes set to compete across the five medal events. These are 100m ambulant, 100m seated, shot put ambulant, shot put seated and javelin throw ambulant.
From the most popular track events – sprint, middle distance and long distance – to eye-catching field events, the Sol2023 athletics competition is set to draw thousands to the National Stadium for the week-long festivity.
Events across men’s and women’s include: 100 metres, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m, 100m hurdles (women), 110m hurdles (men), 400m hurdles, 3,000m steeplechase, 4x100m relays, 4x400m relays, half marathon, high jump, long jump, triple jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, javelin throw, hammer throw, decathlon (men) and heptathlon (women).
The sprint events promise to attract plenty of attention, given the notable absence of the Pacific’s sprint king and queen – Fiji’s Banuve Tabakaucoro, who retired just before this Games, and Papua New Guinea’s Toea Wisil, who had a baby in September. Therefore, Sol2023 will see the crowning of a new sprint king and queen in the 100m and 200m.
In the middle and long-distance events, Solomon Islands’ Sharon Firisua, who also holds the 5000m Pacific Games record, is setting her sights on one final lap – with the aim of winning the title in front of her home crowd.
The men’s and women’s high jump also promise to be exciting spectacles, with competitors vying to break the event’s 44-year-old Games records for both men and women, set by New Caledonia’s Paul Poaniewa (2.21m) and Tahiti’s Daniele Guyonnet (1.80m).
“All athletics events will be eye-catching for the spectators with loud support, as many of these events are commonly followed by people in Honiara,” the Games Organising Committee (GOC)’s Athletics Sports Cluster Manager, Sarah Gale said.
She added that it will also be interesting to see how spectators react to events such as pole vault, which will be contested the first time in Solomon Islands.
The athletics action begins at 1pm on Monday with the women’s heptathlon 100m hurdles and men’s 400m hurdles.
Bodybuilding returns to the Pacific Games at Sol2023 for its third appearance, having been contested at Noumea 2011 and Port Moresby 2015 but not at Samoa 2019.
It’s a single-day event that will take place at Maranatha Hall on Monday,
Last time out in 2015 the host nation dominated, winning 10 medals, including five golds. Tonga won six medals, including four golds, and New Caledonia collected five medals, two of which were gold. American Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Niue also reached the podium.
There will be two events for women – overall athletic physique and overall model physique – followed by seven weight-based events for men, and an overall category.
Competition begins at 9am on Monday.
Touch rugby at the Sol2023 Pacific Games will kick off at DC Park on Monday 27 November, running until Saturday 2 December.
It consists of three competitions – men’s and women’s from Monday to Wednesday and mixed from Thursday to Saturday.
Touch rugby was developed from rugby league and sees players touch rather than tackle opponents.
Last time out at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, Papua New Guinea (PNG) won gold in all three events and Samoa claimed silver in all three. Fiji won bronze in the men’s and women’s, and Cook Islands won bronze in the mixed.
These four nations are again expected to dominate proceedings at Sol2023.
PNG’s Angelena Watego is appearing at her fifth Pacific Games and will be seeking to ensure her team ends up on the podium in both the women’s and mixed events.
The action begins at 8:30am on Monday with two women’s matches – Cook Islands v Solomon Islands and Fiji v Samoa.
Entry to DC Park is free.
In netball, Tonga will be seeking an inaugural netball gold medal when the Sol2023 Pacific Games competition starting today at Friendship Hall.
Running through until the final day of the Games on Saturday, netball will be contested by nine countries – Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Norfolk Island, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Netball is the only sport at the Pacific Games that is contested solely by women (although mixed netball competitions are popular in some countries in the region).
It has been part of the Pacific Games since 1963, when it was introduced as an optional sport. Over the years, the competition has witnessed the rise of formidable teams, with Fiji emerging as the most successful nation in netball at the Pacific Games.
With an impressive seven gold medals, Fiji has consistently showcased its dominance in the sport. Cook Islands follow closely behind with four gold medals, making them the only other nation to clinch the top spot in netball at the Pacific Games.
However, Tonga will be eyeing a first ever gold at the end of a remarkable year in which they competed at the Netball World Cup in South Africa for the first time, defeating Fiji and other well established netball nations during that tournament.
PNG, who have won a medal at every Pacific Games since 1991 but never gold, will also be eyeing top spot on the podium.
Last time out at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, Cook Islands won gold, Tonga claimed silver and PNG got bronze. The host nation narrowly missed out on a medal, losing the bronze medal match to PNG.
Friendship Hall is poised to witness intense matches, strategic plays, and passionate displays of athleticism as teams compete for the coveted gold medal.
Will Fiji continue its reign as the netball powerhouse, will Cook Islands defend their title, or will Tonga or PNG win a coveted first gold?
The action begins at 8:30am on Monday with Niue taking on Tonga. A Sport City day ticket (available for $30 from Sol2023 ticket booths) or Games pass is needed for entry.
Va’a is another competition that will be exciting as ten nations (Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tahiti) clash on the open waters at DC Park in the Sol2023 Pacific Games va’a competition as of today.
Celebrating the traditional outrigger canoe paddling of the Pacific, va’a is one of the most treasured sports at the Pacific Games and this year’s competition promises some epic battles, with powerhouses like Tahiti, New Caledonia, and Fiji eyeing a cascade of gold.
Tahiti’s top performer in the men’s individual races at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, Kevin Ceran Jerusalemy, is not competing here, opening the door for new champions to be crowned. Cook Islands’ Andre Tutaka-George, who won bronze in both men’s individual events last time, will be hoping to upgrade his podium position, while New Caledonia’s Titouan Puyo will also be going for gold.
In the women’s individual event, Fiji’s Elenoa Vateitei will be hoping to improve on her silver medal from 2019.
In the team events Tahiti claimed 10 of the 12 medals available at Samoa 2019, with New Caledonia collecting the other two. Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands also won medals last time.
Monday’s first day will see action in the V1 and V12 500m men’s and women’s from 8am, where skill and strategy will collide on the shimmering waters.
Events will continue on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
And the best part? Entry is absolutely free. Don’t miss your chance to witness this truly Pacific sport, where passion meets the waves and champions will be crowned.
Source: Pacific Games News Service