Written by Bob Snow – OAA Life Member
Oceania Athletics is pleased to announce a return of the Oceania Cup Team Competition to the Oceania Invitational Series.
The Oceania Cup was awarded in 2001 and 2003, both the University of Queensland Team who was representing Australia at the competitions.
This year’s editions will be awarded via a different method. The competition will be scored using the World Athletics Scoring Tables. These are the same tables used in the Ranking and Qualification system. The full rules for the competition can be found here.
Bob Snow, has written a review of both the 2001 and 2003 competitions.
OCEANIA CUP – Port Vila, Vanuatu, 2001
The inaugural Oceania Cup was held at the Korman Stadium in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 14th July 2001. With Vanuatu’s large French-speaking population it was a big Bastille Day celebration, with the prime minister, the Honourable Edward Natapei, being present for the entire competition, and presenting the cup to the winners.
Ten countries were participating in the cup, with New Caledonia being invited as a guest, as it was not a member of the Oceania Athletics grouping. The countries which competed were – Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga and the host nation Vanuatu. Nauru was due to compete, but the normal transport difficulties prevailed, and they did not arrive on time. Transport in many of the Pacific Islands is always problematic
The island nations competed as combined Melanesian, Micronesian or Polynesian teams. Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Vanuatu competed as national teams. The Australian Team was from Queensland University, and New Zealand fielded an U23 team.
The event to be contested were 100m, 200m, 800m, 3000m, HJ, LJ, SP & DT for the men and the 100m, 200m, 800, 1500m, HJ, LJ, SP & DT for the women. Points were awarded for the first seven place-getters – 8,6,5,4,3,2 &1. There were invitational events that were non-scoring.
Each team was limited to 5 female and 5 male athletes, and they had to cover the full range of events. (Not all teams had the full complement of 10 athletes). Great novelty to see sprinters in the throwing events and jumpers in the relays. The programme fully tested the small teams and produced an exciting day of competition. Melanesia did not include a women’s thrower and paid dearly as the sprinters and middle-distance athletes who had to do the shot and the discus could just not compete with their better equipped rivals.
Multiple winners were Peter Pulu (MEL – PNG) with wins in the 100m and 200m, Bindee Goon Chew (Australia) also taking the sprint double and Jean-Pierre Totele (NCL) in the Shot & Discus.
The relay events were mixed, with two male and two female runners. An early venture into mixed relays which will see them as part of the Tokyo Olympic Games in July.
Australia (119 points) came out a clean winner with New Zealand second (89 points), followed by New Caledonia (81), Polynesia (77), Melanesia (76), Vanuatu (40) and Micronesia (32).
It was a great experience for the Australian and New Zealand teams to travel to a Pacific Island nation for competition and see Island culture first-hand. Many of Team Australia commented on how much they loved going to the local restaurants and having the most fantastic steak meals. Vanuatu has a large Waygu Beef industry.
The next Oceania Cup was scheduled for 2003 in Apia, Samoa, just prior to the South Pacific Games which were to be held in Suva, Fiji.
OCEANIA CUP – Apia, Samoa, 2003
The second edition of the Oceania Cup was held in Apia, Samoa at Apia Park over two days – 26th & 27th June 2003. It was an ideal warm-up meet for those participating in the SPG in Suva which had the first Athletics’ event on 7th July.
The participants were Australia (represented once again by the Queensland University), New Zealand, Melanesia (PNG & The Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati and Nauru), Polynesia (Samoa, American Samoa, French Polynesia and Tonga). Fiji kept all of their athletes back home undergoing their final preparations for the home SPG. Samoa fielded two teams – Samoa A and Samoa B in addition to those in the Polynesian team, and American Samoa sent a large team to make the most of the pre-SPG opportunities for valuable competition.
Once again, the rules limited the number of participants who could score for their team, and many participated as non-scoring athletes. Melanesia for the second cup in a row did not have any throwers, and jumper, Angela Way managed to participate in the HJ, LJ, TJ, DT & JT. In the Men’s events they had Solomon Islands’ sprinter Reuben Apuri in the SP, and jumper Sandy Katusele in the JT. Still Sandy did manage to get the PNG National Record in the Long Jump, with his best of 7.21m. That record stood until 2021.
The brothers from FSM, Jack (100m) and John (200m) Howard won the sprint double and Australia’s Nicholas Hudson won the 1500m and 3000m events. Samoa’s popular Shaka Sola won the SP & DT. Caitlin Willis (AUS) won the 400m and 800m events, with New Zealand’s Tania Cooper winning the 1500m and 300m events. Tonga’s Ana Po’uhila won the SP & JT.
Melanesia won both of the mixed relays – 4 x 100m and the 800m Medley Relay.
The cup was retained by Australia. New Zealand finished half a point ahead of Polynesia in second place. The secret of success is to select a well-balanced team that covers all of the events – sprints, middle/long distance, jumps and throws.
It was a good warm up for the South Pacific Games to be held the following week. Winners in the Suva SPG, who participated in the Apia Oceania Cup, were ‘Ana Po’uhila (SP), Shaka Sola (DT) & Sandy Katusele (HJ)