Dear reader, welcome to this special August edition of Perspectives in Sports all the way from Glasgow, Scotland.
I am very fortunate to be with Team Solomon as their General Team Manager. The team, under the command of Chef de Mission Ronald Bei Talasasa Jr, have settled well into the Commonwealth Games Village. The facilities here are amazing and our athletes are enjoying training and competing under such wonderful conditions. Spirits are high! We trust everybody back home was able to get a glimpse of the team during the Opening Ceremony! I do not know what it looked like on your TV screens, but from where the Team was sitting, it was pretty amazing!! As I write, we are on day 7 of the competition and I trust you have been able to keep up with the team’s progress.
Team Solomon is here on a very special mission. All athletes cherish the opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best athletes. The Team are viewing this event as a crucial stepping stone towards PNG2015. In many sports at these Commonwealth Games, multiple Olympic, World and European Champions take part. Competition is of the highest level. Our Team are very upbeat: this is an excellent platform to learn from the best, in order to be like the best and one day beat the best and become the best. That is our motto! All athletes are aiming to set a personal best under these competitive circumstances or get through one or two rounds.
I am sure that you have eagerly been keeping up with the team’s progress so I will just recap results so far very briefly. First to compete on day 1 was Tony Lomo, our judoka who also went to the London Olympics. He faced an opponent from Ghana and for most of the first round of his bout seemed to have the upper hand. He pressured well and tried to force an Ippon at one stage. Unfortunately, the fighter from Ghana managed to throw Tony in the second half of that round and was awarded an Ippon. Great show by Tony nonetheless! Well done!
Later that day, the Triathlon competition took place with a magnificent field of contenders! The favorites from England, the Brownlee brothers with a long list of titles between them! From Team Solomon, Jad Nalo and Stanley Ofasisili stepped up. The boys did well. The pace of the race was incredibly high. Both competitors completed their swimming legs and were close to completing their first lap on the bicycle when the leader group of three lapped them. In accordance with the ITU rules, the boys then had to leave the race. They produced an absolutely amazing effort amongst World, European and Olympic champions!! Credit to you both and I am sure you have taken so much away from this experience!
Last weekend it was our weightlifters’ turn. Brown Ramohaka was the first one out on Friday. He lifted excellently: on his last attempt in the snatch he virtually set a new national record, but it was deemed a no lift by the judges due to a small elbow infringement. Brown had to settle for equaling his personal best which he did in lift 2. In the clean and jerk, he succeeded in setting a new national record, which also accumulated in a new national record in his total and placed 15th overall with a total of 235kg.
The next day, it was the ladies’ turn. Hepline Iro started off in the morning with some truly inspirational lifting. In the snatch she managed 77kg and in the Clean and Jerk she lifted 97kg. This placed her third in the B group for snatch and second for Clean and Jerk and Total. In the overall scoring she ended up lifting better than some of the A Group lifter and ended in 10th position! Excellent performance indeed. Jenly Wini had all eyes on her in the late afternoon session. She was our only lifter to start in the prestigious A group of her category. She showed strong spirit and courage. Although she had a shaky start, Jenly, also one of our Olympians, seemed to be battling back. In the end she was not able to produce her best and ended up in 8th position overall with a total of 181kg. It may not have been her day, but I am sure we can expect to see much more from this athlete in the near future as she continue to compete and looks at developing our youngsters back home too!
Sunday was athletics’ turn. Francis Manioru started in heat 1 of the 100m sprint eliminations. Although he was nursing a hamstring injury, he was the fastest out of the blocks. The injury proved too much for him to keep up with the fast pace. He completed his sprint in 11.86s. Rosefelo Siosi ran in the late afternoon in the 5000m. The youngster had to fight his own demons during this race, having been lapped by the leader group three times. The crowd cheered for him and kept him going! Despite feeling like quitting after 2km, he ran on and completed the race setting a new PB for himself. True character by a young man.
Monday we turned back to weightlifting with David Gorosi lifting in the B group of the 85kg category. He lifted all 6 lifts; no foul attempts. In the snatch his best was 125kg which was a PB. In the Clean and Jerk he lifted 155kg which is only 2kg under his PB from Wallis and Futuna. His total of 280kg was a PB however. This performance placed him 2nd in group B and 11th overall. Another great result.
On Tuesday, it was time for Rob Dorovolomo from table tennis and Katea Ueresi from wrestling to step up. In the table tennis competition, there were 10 pools of three competitors in round robin competition. Rob had a tough battle against a Scot who play in the UK league and lost. However, he defeated the higher ranked player from St Kitts and Nevis, which will surely see him move up the world ranking. Unfortunately, only one player per pool could advance. Katea had an extremely tough opponent from Pakistan in his first bout of the 75kg freestyle category. This fighter fought through all of his opponents with ease to reach the final. This meant Katea was able to come back in the repechage to attempt to work his way to the bronze final. He fought Malta. Struggling to find his pace in round 1, Katea found himself 6-0 down at the break. He composed himself and fought back strongly in round 2. Round 2 ended 0-0 with Katea really sticking it to the man from Malta. Anything could have happened if there were only a 3rd round. Katea gained extremely valuable experience amongst a truly accomplished field of fighters.
We have one more athlete to compete on Saturday in the Women’s 5000m: Sharon Firisua. The team look forward to supporting their final combatant as she takes to the track in Hampden Park in a few days.
Athletes are in great spirits and have taken part in many tv and radio interviews for BBC, SKY Sports, ABC Radio Australia and Pacific Beat, as well as Solomon media. Their behavior is truly exemplary and we can all be proud of our ambassadors here to Scotland and indeed to the whole Commonwealth. The Team Management, both chef de mission and myself as general manager, are very happy with the performances we have seen and the athletes’ attitude towards competition. With the Commonwealth Games coming to a close in a few days, plans are being made in the run up to the Pacific Games in PNG. We are looking forward to a bright future. Go Solo Go!
Yours in sports, Andy.
Provided by Dr Andy Roosen
PhD Sports Biomechanics and Motor Control, BSc First Class (Hons) Sports Science, Director Synergies Ltd
About the author: Andy holds a PhD in Sports Biomechanics and Motor Control from Loughborough University in England, which is generally regarded as the home of Commonwealth Sports Science. In his competition days, he won the 2000 Copenhagen Karate World Open. He has authored a book on martial arts injury prevention and management as well as various scientific articles. He has resided in Honiara since 2005 and is the national coach for karate.