OCEANIA ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2002 Christchurch (December 12-14)
After successful Oceania Grand Prix competitions in Ballarat and Melbourne, the sporting caravan crossed the Tasman Sea to New Zealand to get ready for the sixth Oceania Athletics Championships in Christchurch.
After an impressive Maori welcoming ceremony, the IAAF Area Delegate, Bill Bailey, was required to reply in song. His rendition of “We wish you a Merry Christmas” was appropriate for the time being two weeks before Christmas. (Thanks go to Fletcher McEwen for that “sporting gem” as outlined in his book “Tracks in the Sand”).
There were 39 events on offer for the athletes – 20 for Men and 19 for Women. Fifteen Oceania teams participated, with New Caledonia again as guest competitors. Many athletes from New Zealand, who were not part of their official team also competed by invitation. On one internet “resource” the results all of the Canterbury (CAN) athletes who participated with given the Canadian maple-leaf flag above their name!
As expected, New Zealand topped the gold medal tally with 14 with Fiji and PNG both on 6, Australia and Samoa with 4, and Tonga 3. All told eight nations won gold medals.
Fiji’s Makelesi Bulikiobo was one of the stars of the meet winning the 100m, 200m & 400m and being a member of the gold medal winning 800m Medley Relay along with Rachel Rogers, Litiana Miller and Mereoni Raluve.
Liz Auld (NZL won the 800m & 1500m double with Brooke Eddy (NZL) winning the 5000m and the 2000m Steeplechase. Rachel Rogers continued her winning way in the 100m Hurdles, and the Tongan Women also took home a swag of gold – Melesia Mafileo (Triple Jump), Ana Po’uhila (Shot and Javelin) and Melehifo Uhi (Discus with a Championship Record). Linda Selui (NCL) won the Javelin. Sharyn Tennant (AUS) won the Hammer Throw and Australia’s Elizabeth Murphy tied for first place in the High Jump with New Zealand’s Tiffany Pickford.
It was no surprise that Peter Pulu (PNG) won the 100m and 200m double again. He had established himself as an Oceania specialist with his long run of wins in OAA competitions. Peter was also part of the PNG winning 800m Medley Relay – along with Henry Ben, Jeffrey Bai and Mowen Boino.
Gareth Hyett (NZL) won the middle-distance duo – 800m & 1500m. Ben Ruthe (NZL) won the 5000m while the ageless Tahitian, Georges Richmond, won the Half Marathon with a Championships Record.
Hurdles rivalry saw Avele Tanielu (SAM) win the 110mH from Mowen Boino (PNG) and Mowen won the 400mH.
Jacobus Nel (NZL) won the Pole Vault with a Championship Record, and Fagamanu Sofai (SAM) won the Long Jump with a windy 6.83m. New Zealand based Samoan, Chris Mene scored a double in the Shot and Discus (Championship Record).
The Youth (U18) Championships saw overall domination with Australia (15) and New Zealand (10) taking the majority of the events, with the Islanders combining to take 9 gold. There were 34 events on offer – 17 each for the Men and the Women.
Double event winners were – Cameron Hewitt (AUS – 400m & 800m), Garit Read (NZL – 1500m & 3000m), Steven Lasei (SAM – Shot & Discus), Aimee Lynch (NZL – 100m & 200m), Nicole Burry (AUS – 400m Hurdles & Triple Jump), Leana Bishop (AUS – Shot & Discus). Australia won both the Men’s and the Women’s 800m Medley Relay.