Tahiti, New Caledonia win first Pacific Games gold medals, Samoa just misses out
After carrying her country’s flag at the Pacific Games Ceremony the night before, New Caledonian swimmer Charlotte Robin won the first gold medal of the Games for coming first in the Open Water 5km race at Mulifanua on Monday morning.
She beat out second and third placed Maiana Flament (New Caledonia) and Matelita Buadromo (Fiji), while Samoa’s Andrea Schuster finished fourth.
Robin said she was very happy and proud to win the first gold of the 2019 Games.
“I hope New Caledonia will follow me and have a lot of medals.”
This is Robin’s fifth Pacific Games since her debut in 1999 in Guam, and she was chosen to be a flagbearer for New Caledonia at the opening ceremony on Sunday night, though she had to leave early to rest up for the morning.
“We just did the lap of the park, then left.
“But it was a beautiful ceremony.”
She defended her Open Water title from the 2015 Games, and had previously won silver in 2011, and gold in 2003.
Robin missed the previous Games in Samoa in 2007, so this is her first time in the country.
“Thanks very much Samoa for welcoming us, it’s a pleasure to be here.”
She is also competing in the 800m freestyle swim at the Aquatic Centre on Tuesday, and the triathlon and aquathlon on the 19th and 20th of July.
Tahiti’s Rahiti De Vos won the men’s Open Water 5km swim, beating out New Caledonians Hugo Savignac and Benoit Riviere who came second and third.
He said the race was tough.
“I don’t usually do open water so it was kinda hard.
“My strategy was just to follow the leading group for the first four laps, and at the last buoy push all out to the finish and see what happens.”
De Vos powered home, running down Savignac just before the end of the race.
He won six golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2015 Games, and is set for another strong showing this week at the Aquatics Centre in the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle events.
Samoan Sitivi So’oa’emalelagi came fourth, and wishes he could have caught the medallists to get his nation on the medal board.
“It was one of the roughest swims I’ve ever done before, in terms of the current and the waves.
“But it was fun out there, I thank the Lord that we’ve all finished, and we’re all still fit and healthy.”
The 19 year-old from Vailele, Leulumoega and Ulutogia said the race should be a good warmup for the rest of the week’s events
“It’s nice to know now the speed of my competitors.”
So’oa’emalelagi is off to Illinois, U.S.A. soon after the Pacific Games in August to take up a swimming scholarship at Lincoln College.
“Thank you very much Samoa for all your prayers and support.”