For the Australian and New Zealand competitors, this will be their last meet of the season. For the Pacific Islands’ athletes, however, this will be a major stepping-stone for selection for their national teams to the Mini Pacific Games in Port Vila in December.
Following on from her impressive display in the Australian National Championships in March this year, PNG’s Toea Wisil is likely to be one of the stars of the championships. She is still just a few hundredths of a second outside automatic qualification by right, in both the 100m and 200m and will be highly motivated to run fast times. Remember her Olympic qualifying time in last year’s Melanesian Championships on the same track! Determination personified.
With many appearances for PNG since her debut in 2005, she has come to dominate the Island competitions, and more than hold her own in Australia. Her biggest challenge will come in the 400m, an event that she runs infrequently, and has had limited preparation.
Other sprinters who are likely to try their chances to de-throne Toea in the 100m, are her training partner, Jessica Peris (AUS), Morgan Gaffney (AUS), Kayla Montagner (RAT) and Larissa Tuhaka (NZL) and fellow Islanders Patty Taea (COK), Makereta Naulu (FIJ) & Sisilia Seavula (FIJ). With 13 in the field, quality performances will be needed to make the final.
There is almost an identical field of 13 in the 200m, and Toea will be the overwhelming favourite. The only other athlete to break 24 seconds is Jessica Peris, and that was on the extremely fast track in Canberra – at 600m alititude. Larissa Pasternatsky, who was 3rd in the Australian Champs, is a strong contender for the silver medal.
With a small field of only 7 – and thus a straight final – the title looks to be a tussle between Toea Wisil and Australia’s Jessica Haigh. Who has prepared properly for this event?
The middle distance events look to be the private preserve of Australia and New Zealand. The Islands’ strengths are the explosive events such as the sprints, jumps and throws. In the 800m on paper it looks like a battle-royale between the two Australians Tia Brady and Keely Waters. The 1500m looks to be a four-way struggle between Hannah Miller (NZL), Maudie Skyring (AUS), Poro Gahekave (PNG) and Audrey Hall (AUS). Again, who is in good form now? Many of the season’s best times were run many months ago.
The 5000m, again, look to be strong for NZL and AUS. Add to the mix the unknown form of the Solomon Islands’ Sharon Firisua and we have an exciting prospect. It all depends on how Sharon has prepared. Miles out in front is expected to be Hannah Miller (NZL) who this year ran a 16:12.55 in the USA. Next fastest is Audrey Hall (AUS) a minute slower. Then it will be Sharon Firisua versus Poro Gahekave (PNG) for the last remaining medal. Will the form guide play out?
The 10000m looks to be ideal for Sharon Firisua (SOL), with only four in the event. She has the best credentials of the four.
The 3000m Steeplechase has only one athlete – Poro Gahekave from PNG. The interest will be to see how she goes against the U20 athletes with whom she will be racing. Their season’s best times are all in the same range.
The 100m Hurdles event has four athletes who are very close together on the ranking list – all running in the low 14-second range. They are Summer Johnson & Carla Takchi from Australia, Ashleigh Sando (NZL) and Adrine Monagi (PNG).
In 2015 PNG had three women who were under 59 seconds for the 400m Hurdles. Since then they have all left the sport. Which athletes will step into the void and make this event their own? The favourite for the final is Ariana Blackwood from New Zealand, who has run 60.60 seconds this year.
In the U18 Division (formerly known as Youth), and the U20 Division (formerly known as Junior), there are many outstanding competitors:-
- Charli Miller (NZL) – 9:48.03 in the U18 3000m.
- Georgia Hulls (NZL) – 11.79 in the U20 100m. Has competed at the World U18 and U20 Championships. Also 55.25 in the U20 400m and 23.80 in the U20 200m.
- Georgie Boal (AUS) – 12.00 in the U20 100m.
- Sarah How (AUS) – 55.86 in the U18 400m.
- Camryn Newton-Smith (AUS) – 13.89 in the U18 100mH.
- Georgia Humphreys (AUS) – 2:13.79 in the U18 800m.
- Tessa Hunt (NZL) – 2:13.77 in the U18 800m.
- Isabella Thornton-Bott (AUS) – 2:08.55 in the U20 800m.
- Hannah Cox (AUS) – 2:11.22 in the U20 800m.
- Jessie Andrews (AUS) – 24.15 in the U18 200m.
- Jessica Payne (AUS) – 23.91 in the U20 200m.
- Riley Proudfoot (AUS) – 60.98 in the U18 400mH.
- Jarmilla Murphy-Knight – 59.75 in the U20 400mH.
- Lara Crouch (AUS) – 4:26.12 in the U18 1500m.