On the first day of Athletics at the Pacific Mini Games, the finals for the Women’s Long Jump and the Men’s High Jump was tough.

It was a packed field with three athletes from PNG, three from Fiji, two from New Caledonia, two from the host country Vanuatu and lone representatives from Tuvalu and Guam.

All of the athletes performed well, but in a surprising result, PNG scooped the medals with Rellie Kaput in winning gold with a jump of 6.40m, Annie Topal jumping 5.68m for silver and team mate Adrine Monagi receiving bronze for her jump at a height of 5.59m.

Kaputin is 24years old and started doing athletics when she was in high school; firstly as a sprinter but then switched to long jump after graduating and received a scholarship to continue her studies in United Kingdom. From there she continued her training in long jump, triple jump and high jump.

“It is not my first time to receive a gold medal,” she said.

“I won a couple of gold back in my country. One of my biggest aims for participating in this Pacific Mini Games was to win gold for my country and I am very proud.”

The winner of the Men’s High Jump was Malakai Kaiwalu from Fiji with 2.06m, closely followed by the silver medallist from PNG, Peniel Richard locking in a height of 2.03m. Mosese Foliaki from Tonga secured the bronze with a height of 2.00m.

Kaiwalu was thrilled with his performance and to win his first gold medal at Pacific Games level.

‘’It is my first time to receive a gold medal in the Pacific Games. I am really happy despite the pressure that I get from the athletes from PNG, I finally achieved my aim,” he said.

“I am looking forward for the bigger competition that (is) yet to come and I won’t stop doing my training. I dedicated this medal to my lovely mother who has been the great supporter for my career and also to my friends for giving me words of encouragement to motivate me in my game.”

By Ellien Batick

Photo by Peter Carroll