Samoa judo wins medals on first day

Samoa has kicked off its campaign in judo on a good note, winning three bronze medals on the first day of competition in the 2019 Pacific Games. 

The July 16-17 tournament will have 13 countries competing for a total of 18 gold medal opportunities, in weight categories and open class matches. 

The countries competing in this year's competition include, Fiji, Kiribati, Guam, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tahiti, Nauru and Samoa.

The women's preliminaries started off the day's events with Samoa's athletes competing in the senior women's Under (U) 57kg, U63kg, U70kg, U78kg and Over (+)78kg weight categories.

For the women's U57 kg weight category, Maria Annette Gay has won a bronze medal, after beating Serah Peraka of Papua New Guinea. Maria shares the bronze medal win with Tahiti, while New Caledonia's Jaycee Brival and Resa Delots both won silver and gold respectively in their weight category.

Maria told the Samoa Observer that she was scared about today's match but she was surprised about her bronze win. 

Representing Samoa for her first time Maria Annette Gay says that her medal win feels unreal, and she is extremely grateful to her parents and judo family and her coaches, Kohei and Derek.

Fellow female competitor for Samoa, Niu Imeleta Faauma, in the senior women's 78kg weight category also competed for the bronze medal but lost against Marie Keneke of Papua New Guinea.

The men's preliminaries included Under (U) 60kg, U66kg, U73kg, U81kg, U90kg, U100kg and +100kg weight categories. The bronze medal winners in judo in the men's competitions are Peniamina Percival for the U81kg category and Derek Sua for the +100kg category. 

Derek won his bronze against Fiji while Peniamina was in contention for a bronze against Vincent Neris of New Caledonia, but was declared the victor before the fight due to Vincent's withdrawal from the competition.

Some highlights of the men's competition include Pine Atonio Pini of Samoa winning his under 66kg match against Papua New Guinea's Ashaan Nelson, and fellow Samoan William Tai Tin winning both of his under 73kg matches against Kimsley Vui of Papua New Guinea and Jeremy Le Corvasier of New Caledonia. Both Samoan fighters were in the medal contention but did not win.

Samoa's Peniamina Percival in the men's under 81 kg weight class told the Samoa Observer that the team did very well today. 

"I'm very proud of our team and all that we have achieved today. It's good to see that we have the motivation and that we're all having fun."

Percival, who has been training in Japan for the last 3 months before returning home in time for the Games, won in his under 81kg weight category. 

"It's always been a dream of mine to represent my country and it's the greatest feeling to be able to do so now," he said. 

Peniamina said he has a lot of respect for fellow teammate Derek Sua, who he says is an inspiration to the whole team. 

"I've always loved sports but the best thing about judo is that anybody can do judo. You can have the best opponent or the worst but anything can change once it's all up in the air."

More competitors from Samoa and other nations are contending alongside Peniamina on Wednesday for the men and women's open class and team competitions on Thursday.

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