Medal magic for Pacific countries at Games

Gold and bronze medal winners from Samoa.
Gold and bronze medal winners from Samoa.

PACIFIC countries finished the Commonwealth Games with 18 medals.

Weightlifting led the way with 11 medals while boxing, lawn bowls, athletics, rugby sevens and beach volleyball combined for another seven.

The Pacific won 18 medals on the Gold Coast, their best return since winning 21 at the 2002 Games in Manchester.

Samoa was the region’s top performer with two gold and three silver medals, their highest ever Commonwealth Games tally.

Papua New Guinea won three medals in weightlifting, including Steven Kari repeating his gold medal effort from 2014.

Eileen Cikamatana won Fiji’s first gold since 2002 although the men’s rugby sevens team had to make do with silver.

Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands all won their first ever Commonwealth Games medals, while Norfolk Island won their first in 24 years.

And Nauru kept their streak alive, winning a medal for the eighth straight Commonwealth Games.

And Team Samoa Chef de Mission Nynette Sass said the 2018 Commonwealth Games can be a launching pad for sport in the country after the team finished highest of the Pacific nations competing at the games.

Samoa finished in 17th place on the overall medal tally on the Gold Coast, winning three gold and two silver medals in weightlifting and boxing.

“It is a sense of pride for us knowing that we’re leading as far as Oceania is concerned and for a small island country it’s punching above our weight. Out of 71 countries we’re doing not too bad.”

Samoa’s biggest success came in weightlifting, where they collected four medals, while Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali won the country’s first Commonwealth boxing medal in 12 years.

“Weightlifting is the sport to pursue for us and support in Samoa but we also recognise the fact that boxing has finally re-emerged again out of the ashes and we’re very keen to pursue and support the development of boxing again.”

Nynette Sass said the future is bright with 17-year-old Feagaiga Stowers, 18-year-old Don Opeloge and 19-year-old Plodzicki-Faoagali part of a next generation of Samoan sporting talent.

“The desire is to help develop new, fresh blood and so seeing these young guys – this is the reason why we have actually invested quite a lot into having a team like the medical team and our physios in place to help with these guys in their recovery and the welfare of our athletes.

“I think this has been absent for a long time and we’re on the right track now,” said Sass.