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PNG dominates track to extend Mini Games lead

PNG's sprint queen Ms Toea heading for the finish line
A stunning final day on the track has helped Papua New Guinea extend their lead atop the medal tally after four days of the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna.
PNG now have 27 gold medals in all, with New Caledonia in second on 18 and Tahiti back up to third with 13.
Vinnie Wylie reports from Wallis.
“PNG’s Betty Barua added four gold medals on Friday in the women’s triple jump, 400m hurdles, 4x100m and 4x400m relays to take her total haul this week to five. Sprint queen Toea Wisil was a part of both relay-winning teams and also took out the 200m title to finish with four gold medals, while PNG also won gold in the men’s 110m and 400m hurdles, women’s heptathlon and the men’s 4x100m relay after favourites Fiji were disqualified. Fiji still managed another three gold medal to take their total haul into double figures, while New Caledonia took their overall tally to 18, all in athletics. The hosts also picked up their first gold medal of the Games Tony Falelavaki leading home a 1-2-3 finish for Wallis and Futuna in the men’s para javelin. Meanwhile Tahiti’s Va’a crews finished in style, winning the men’s and women’s endurance races to make it a perfect from 12 for 12 gold medals in Gahi. The sailing, volleyball and beach volleyball competitions continue over the weekend with taekwondo and rugby sevens getting underway on Monday and Tuesday.”
And the Pacific Games Council won’t be short of discussion topics at Sunday’s Annual General Meeting in Wallis and Futuna.
The gathering in the capital Mata-Utu is the first chance for the Council’s 22 members to express an interest in hosting the 2021 Mini Games, which will be voted on in the second half of next year.
Further talks will also be had on proposals to turn the Mini Games into a Youth Games as well the possibility of including New Zealand and Australia in future Pacific Games tournaments.
The Executive Director of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, says many countries are already using the Mini Games as a development opportunity.
“For those countries it’s quite an interesting proposition to perhaps convert the event in the future. Some of the other countries are not so sure and, for just as the Games Council, we have got to be assured that there will always be host countries wanting to provide for the event, and host the event, in the event that it’s not a Mini Games, with potentially the best athletes in the Pacific, rather it’s a youth format.”
He also says a trial run is currently underway in sailing, where Australia are competing alongside Pacific athletes in a concurrent Oceania Championships.
“So far the indications are that they’ve integrated well and the competition is going well and it’s not a one-way street and it’s actually quite competitive, which is what we want to see, and so there’s some proposals on Sunday to perhaps look at expanding that number of sports in 2015, where Australia and New Zealand are invited in those particular sports.”
Meanwhile, Norfolk Island athlete Brianna Stephens paid special tribute to a friend on the final day of athletics competition in Wallis and Futuna.
Britney Quintal Christian was to have competed in the shot put at the Kafika Stadium but was killed in a car accident in June, while Brianna was injured and unable to attend the Oceania Championships in Tahiti.
18 year-old Stephens won a bronze medal in the women’s hammer throw on Wednesday and on Friday took part in the women’s shot put event in memory of her friend.
She finished in last place with a throw of 7.11 metres but says it was something she wanted to do.
“I thought it would be a good idea since I’m the only representative from Norfolk. I kind of just went in blind, just have a go, and just hope for the best. It was quite scary since I’m not that good at it but it felt good doing it for her - she would have wanted that.”
Stephens she may even continue practicing the shot put to see if she can improve.

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