The second Oceania Athletics Championships was held in Auckland, New Zealand, from 22-26 February. This is right in the middle of the Australian and New Zealand Athletics season, but it was a very early wake-up call for many of the island nations.
The venue was the Mt Smart Stadium, home of the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
It was good to see Niue and American Samoa join the competition, but PNG sent just two senior athletes, one of whom, Lillyanne Beining, was attending high school in Australia. There were good numbers for the Men’s Events, but the fields were small for the Women’s Events.
One change in the programme was that Auckland held the Senior Championships and the Junior (U20) Championships simultaneously. The number of entries for the Junior Championships was significantly higher than for the Senior Championships. OAA was on to a winner here, with eleven different nations entered in the Junior Men’s 100m event. Altogether fourteen nations were entered in the Junior Championships.
Several champions of the future were in action in the Junior Championships. Paul Di Bella (AUS), Glenn Howard (NZL), Samuel Bai (PNG), Isireli Naikelekelevesi (FIJ), Rachel Rogers (FIJ – who won the 100m, 200m and 100mH), Margareth Bringold (TAH) and the New Caledonian Javelin duo – Linda Polelei and Bina Ramesh who were in both the Junior and Senior competitions. Bina won the bronze medal in the World Juniors in 1996 in Sydney, and Linda (now Linda Selui) was still competing in 2019 and is still actively involved in the sport.
In the Senior Division, the Fijian sprint stars dominated. Jone Delai won the 100m and 200m, and Vaciseva Tavaga also gold in the 100m and 200m. Another who excelled was Mary-Estelle Kapalu (VAN), who won the 400m and 400m Hurdles.
New Zealand’s Nick Bolton won the 110m Hurdles and the 400m Hurdles. Tahiti did well in the Men’s Jumps, with Thibault Cattiau winning the Pole Vault and Apolosi Foliaki the Triple Jump. New Zealander Aaron Langdon jumped a windy 7.62m to win the Men’s Long Jump. Patrick Hellier (NZL) won the Shot Putt, Hammer and got a silver in the Discus.