As we look back over the past week, we can reflect with a sense of satisfaction. A week where we can say that our Pacific Island athletes represented their countries with pride. By his own admission, Alex Rose (Samoa) didn’t get the results he had hoped for in the men’s discus. Still, he was the first Pacific Island Athlete in the field events to reach the Olympics via the world ranking system – what an achievement. Although a universality selection, Rellie Kaputin (Papua New Guinea) proved that she deserved to be there with her top 20 finish in the women’s long jump. Fiji’s Banuve Tabakaucoro made the best of his selection when he went through to the first round of the men’s 100 metres – after almost giving the sport away when he missed selection in Rio 2016. But it’s not all about the final results; for many of our athletes, it was the opportunity to represent their small island country on the most important stage of all. Athletics is the number one individual Olympic Sport in the Oceania Area. This is never more evident than when we saw no less than eight (8)of our athletes carry the flag for their Country in the Opening Ceremony.
What emerged for Oceania Athletics were a group of young athletes who continue to strive to be the best that they can be and be role models for others in their countries. How much motivation do you get from seeing Regine Tugard-Watson (Guam) compete at the Olympics whilst still carrying out a full-time Naval career in Guam? To be Micronesia’s fastest woman is not enough; the idea is to always strive for more and never be complacent with where you are. “I’ve got big plans.”
With her inspirational run in the Women’s Marathon in Sapporo, Sharon Firisua put the Solomon Islands well and truly on the map. Sharon was the first Pacific Island woman to run in the Olympic Marathon.
“I have to set the benchmark to show the Pacific Island women that if I can do it, they can do it, and someone coming in after me will be better than me.”
Our athletes performed personal and season-best in a sport that judges to the milli-second and the millimetre. They made friendships that will last a lifetime, and for that, Oceania Athletics says, ‘thank you for the memories!’
100m - 11.27 PB
This was Nathan’s first Summer Olympics, and he ran a personal best of 11.27 in the Preliminary rounds. He is grateful for his Federation and NOC’s support and a massive shout out to his personal coach Larry Ryan, who has been instrumental in refining his technique after competing in Winter Olympics doing Skeleton.
He has loved his Olympic village experience. “It is incredibly cool – it’s as if the entire World were shrunk down into a small city, and all the different types of people in the World are living in one area. It’s an amazing achievement in a cosmopolitan fraternity,” he said.
Nathan encourages young people in his country to be active and participate in sport. “You don’t need to go to the Olympics to participate in athletics, but learning some of the life lessons that sports provide us is an essential part of growing up”.
“At the end of the day, I’m here to represent my nation. Most people aren’t going home with medals. I’m just honoured and thrilled to be here.”
800m - 1:47.26 NR
Middle distance runner Alex Beddoes raced in the Men’s 800m and set another national record/personal best, finishing his heat in Tokyo in a time of 1.47.26, down from his previous record set in February of 1.47.85. He has missed out on progressing to the semi-finals by 0.67 of a second! Alex was competing in his 2nd Olympics, and he has come a long way since Rio, culminating in a new National Record in Tokyo of 1.47.26. Due to the Pandemic, Alex returned to the Cook Islands and received coaching via correspondence. Alex is coached by Australian Coach Justin Rinaldi.
Federated States of Mircronesia
100m - 11:25
Scott recorded 11.25 in the Preliminary rounds of the Men’s 100m in Tokyo. Simply racing down the track in the preliminary round of the men’s 100 meters — the round before “Round 1” — meant everything to the 26-year-old runner from Micronesia.
“I was just happy to be here,” Fiti said. “My very first experience. My very first run at the Olympics. This was a memorable experience and that 11.25 seconds I’ll remember forever.”
100m - 10:59
The Banz Express, Fijian sprinter Banuve has been at the top of the Pacific for many years. He was selected to compete in his favoured 100m at his first Olympics. He progressed from the Preliminary round to the main draw after having his preparation heavily impacted by Covid under the watchful eye of Coach Bola Tafoou in Suva. He admires Coach Bola’s passion and commitment which has not changed in 15 years as a coach. Banuve travelled to Australia for late preparation thanks to FASANOC, OAA and DFAT – PacificAusSport support.
Banuve will now return home to his young family and continue training for selection in the 2024 Olympics. He loves how welcoming the Japanese people have been. He feels fortunate to have the opportunity to see many world champions from different sports, who all have mutual respect and understanding for each other. He encourages anyone interested in trying athletics to give it a go as they won’t regret it. It teaches you self discipline, and that same commitment will carry on to anything you do in life.
100m - 12.17
Regine Tugade-Watson ran a 12.17 in the women’s 100m, which was a season best. A big improvement from her 2016 Olympic debut in Rio.
“Reflecting on my performance, I think I’m a lot more hungrier now after the race in Tokyo than I was after going through the whole pandemic. Alright let’s fast forward to 2024. What do I need to do get there and how good do I want to be at that point. So definitely a lot more hungrier now and I set the bar really high for myself for the next three years.”
“That’s what makes the difference between being a good athlete and being a great athlete. That’s what really pushes you over the edge. When you know you can fall back on your family, your friends and your teammates and your federation. The island in general is really what pushed me to get to the next level and for that I’m very thankful,” she said.
100m - 11.25
Making the decision to add sprints to his jumping repertoire has paid off for Lataisi. He took up sprint training in 2020 and was rewarded with selection for Tokyo in the 100m. Lataisi achieved a time of 11.25 in the preliminary round of the 100m in Tokyo.
Lataisi is coached by Leanne Hines Smith, who accompanied him to Tokyo. He has been fortunate to receive support from his NOC/Government, OAA, and DFAT(#PacificSportsAus)
Read more about Lataisi through our feature piece LINK STORY
100m - 11.01
Jonah was Nauru’s first track and field athlete to attend an Olympic Games, and he ran a season-best of 11.01 in his preliminary heat.
Harris said the experience of leading your country out as flag bearer and competing alongside the world’s best athletes is still sinking in.
“To be amongst the best and fastest sprinters in the world is an inspiration. We also want to make sure that we use the experiences that we gained here to position our island countries”
“I’m proud to put a small country (Nauru) on the global map and hopefully get recognised”
Papua New Guinea
Long Jump: 6.40m
Having suffered a bone break in 2019 and then having a global pandemic hit just as she was about to resume competition, Rellie has remained focused on the big goal – representing PNG at the Olympics. Together with Coach Phil Newton, they have continued to work hard amidst all the uncertainty and their ever-changing plans. As a Universality hopeful athlete in the Long Jump, Rellie needed to hold a high-performance ranking. Having shown consistent improvement on her return to competition in 2021, she jumped a 6.42 before the qualification period closing, which gave her nomination the approval to compete.
As the lowest-ranked athlete, Rellie jumped amazingly within the Tokyo field, finishing 19th out of 30. She is now looking towards the Commonwealth Games and beyond with a renewed confidence. This will have to wait until she has a well-deserved trip to PNG to visit family after being away for 18 months. She has loved being in the Village with her fellow PNG teammates and competing against the best athletes in the World. Rellie is a great role model to aspiring PNG athletes and always finds time to work with young athletes and encourage them to dream. Rellie thanks her Federation, NOC, and DFAT PacificAusSport for their support.
100m: 11.42 PB
Palau’s sprint representative loves to compete in all of the sprints from 60m to 400m. Adrian has been training for 3 ½ years and was excited to receive his selection for Tokyo. He is coached by former Palauan sprint representative Peoria Koshiba at five sessions per week. Adrian has a lot of respect for Coach Peoria, is amazed at how patient and hard-working she is, and is always a great role model for anyone joining the Athletics in Palau.
He has relished the opportunity to meet many elite athletes from around the World and warm up and compete alongside them and grab many selfies for memories. He is now keen to drop his PB further and break the National Record. When asked for advice for the next generation of athletes – “be prepared for years of work and to be patient, a mighty tree doesn’t grow overnight”.
The Throwin Samoan, Alex Rose, had an exciting season leading into the Olympics with a new National Record of 67.48 in May. He had worked extremely hard over the past year with his coach Dane Miller and coming back from surgery, and the work was paying off. He headed to Tokyo with high expectations and was determined to enjoy the experience. He finished 8th in his qualification pool but was unfortunately not able to progress.
Alex has been quick to praise the people of Japan for all of their support, and he looks forward to returning in the future. The Samoan athlete has made his country proud, and they look forward to watching him continue with his career.
Marathon: 3:02:10 NR
Sharon Firisua completed the Women’s Marathon in 3:02:10 with a New National Record.
An incredible achievement, which will leave a lasting legacy. Sharon Firisua took the step up to compete in the Women’s Marathon in Tokyo. The two-time Olympian ran the 5000m in Rio and chose to challenge herself in 2020. Having initially taken up athletics because she enjoyed running. This enjoyment has now taken her to many competitions representing her country.
“I’m incredibly proud of myself, and I hope to inspire Pacific Island Women to get involved with distance running.”
She is a great role model for other female athletes and encourages all athletes to come into her sport. Sharon has soaked up the atmosphere in the Games Village and been a big supporter of her fellow Oceania athletes. She thanks ONOC and DFAT for their support in ensuring the Oceania athletes could all get to Tokyo.
Ronald ran 11.19 in his Preliminary rounds.
Coach Siueni Filimone was happy with his preparation for Tokyo and pleased with the outcome. This was Ronald’s first Olympic experience, and he has enjoyed every moment of his time in Tokyo.
Ronald is looking forward to continuing his training for upcoming competitions in the coming years. He enjoyed his first Olympics and was thrilled to compete against and mix with many of his idols.
100m: 11.42 NR
Given the honour of carrying his country flag in the Opening Ceremony, his first Olympics was bound to provide many unforgettable memories.
Karalo trains in Suva, alongside fellow Oceania athlete Banuve Tabakaucoro with Coach Bola Tafoou. He recorded a personal best and new National Record in the Preliminary rounds of the Men’s 100m in Tokyo. He looks forward to getting back into training and improving for future competitions. He hopes to represent Tuvalu in the Commonwealth Games and beyond.
“In Tuvalu, there was lots of interest in our participation, and people were watching on television, and very proud of us”
Matie is the youngest Oceania track and field representative in Tokyo. She was given a late call up to represent her nation when the IOC offered two Universality positions to Tuvalu in athletics, allowing gender equity.
Matie has been training for about 3 years and has loved every moment of her Tokyo experience, from being the flag in the Opening Ceremony to competing. Matie competed in the Preliminary rounds of the Women’s 100m where she posted a PB. She now looks forward to returning home and continuing training with her coach Etimoni Timuani and hopes to inspire many other young girls to follow in her footsteps.
MF ATHLETE EVENT RESULT + ASA Nathan Crumpton 100m 11.27 PB COK Alex Beddoes 800m 1:47.26 NR FSM Scott Fiti 100m 11.25 FIJ Banuve Tabakaucoro 100m 10.59 GUM Regine Tugade-Watson 100m 12.17 KIR Lataisi Mwea 100m 11.25 NRU Jonah Harris 100m 11.01 PNG Rellie Kaputin Long Jump 6.40 PLW Adrian Ililau 100m 11.42 PB SAM Alex Rose Discus 61.72 SOL Sharon Firisua Marathon 3:02:10 NR TGA Ronald Fotofili 100m 11.19 TUV Matie Stanley 100m 14.52 TUV Karalo Maibuca 100m 11.42 NR