Editorial comment | End of the Pacific Games

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Members of the Team Fiji contingent at the closing ceremony of the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands. Picture: SUPPLIED/TEAM FIJI

The curtains have fallen on the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands, ending two weeks of top-class sports action in Honiara.

There were 24 countries competing at the 17th edition of the region’s sporting event which started on November 17.

Team Fiji came off with a handful of historic achievements at the Games, with the most notable being a gold medal in tennis for the first time.

Other achievements included a gold medal in boxing after a span of 20 years.

We came off with 21 gold medals, 30 silvers and 40 bronze medals, placing us on sixth position.

Once again New Caledonia showed its dominance in the event with 82 gold medals, 57 silver medals and 58 bronze medals to come out on top of the competition.

They won 75 gold medals, 56 silver medals and 51 bronze medals to win in Samoa in 2019.

So they raised their standards and efforts over four years. While there were many heroes in our national contingent, it would be difficult to not highlight the lad from Tavua, Yeshnil Karan.

He won gold in the men’s 10,000m, 5000m and in the 3000m steeplechase. In the end, he spoke about commitment, attention to detail, and setting goals.

He spoke about passion and a desire to do well at the highest level of athletics.

There is a lesson here. It is about commitment and the desire to do well. It is about working hard to live a dream no matter how big the obstacles are. It is about self-belief. There is a touch of humility somewhere there.

Not every athlete who makes it to the games will win a gold medal. We know that. There would be a sense of accomplishment though, of having made it there.

It is the culmination of years of preparation for some athletes.

The Pacific Games is special for many reasons. It brings out the best of the region’s athletes.

This is an opportunity to display their talent, and potential. It is a platform that Pacific athletes can use to live their dreams and reach out or prepare themselves for events such as the Commonwealth Games and the ultimate, the Olympic Games.

This is where it all starts. Again, we call on the various sports bodies in Fiji to commit to preparing for the next Pacific Games in Tahiti now, and not the year of the event in 2027.

There were many highlights in Honiara, and obviously many disappointments.

That should not be a reflection only of the calibre of athletes we took across but must shift attention to the powers that be in the various sports bodies. Sports administrators and coaches must play their role and focus on performance on the field.

It was especially disappointing to see the results of our soccer team.

After so many decades of playing the sport, we still seem to be exposing players at such major events, and not focusing on winning them.

We should be using this event as one of many stages, and as a launch pad to get our team into the FIFA World Cup for instance.

Anyway, as our athletes prepare to head back home, we say congratulations to all those who did their best, and especially to those who won medals.

Thank you for the memories!