Judoka brothersOvini and InikiUera from Nauruhad been hoping to head home from the Vanuatu 2017 Pacific Mini Games with two gongs from the same event, after reaching Thursday’s gold and bronze medal matches in the men’s U90kg category.
Instead they had to settle for a silver between them, secured by Ovini who lost to New Caledonia’s Teva Gouriou in the gold medal match.
However, two finals and a silver is no small achievement for a pair of brothers who only took up the sport four years ago in a country where it is relatively unknown.
Most people in Nauru, a small Micronesian island nation in the central Pacific,are not familiar with judo as Australian rules football (AFL) and weightlifting are the most popular sports there.
But Ovini and Iniki are clearly very passionate about judo.Ovini said the sporthas become part of his daily life, and that he and his brother are on a quest to make Nauru proud through judo.
“It’s a big honour representing our country and family,” Ovini told the Vanuatu 2017 Games News Service. “I was after gold and lost toNew Caledonia but, in the end, achieving silver is better than nothing.”
Ovini said the pair had been training twice a day, six days a week, including cardio work in the morning, and freestyle practice and weight training in the afternoon.
“Our main goal here wasto try todevelop our athletes and gain more experience for future events, and that’s what we came here and did,” he said.
“We expect more from future events. Here, we learnt from our mistakes and weaknesses and we will train on them, ready to win gold next time.”
Iniki, who lost out to Vanuatu’s Nicolas Monvoisin in the bronze medal match, said: “I made a silly mistake and it cost me the match.
“But it was a learning experience for me. I know where my weaknesses are now, so I am going to train and sharpen up for the next event.”
Story by LeviMolisa
Photo by Ron Zwiers