By Daniel Kerwin, Ingrid Cosnier and Kelvin Joe, Port Moresby 2015 Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 13 – Huge crowds were on hand to witness the first day of Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games karate action on Monday at BSP Arena, as New Caledonia and Fiji staged a gold medal showdown in both the kata and kumite events.
In the day’s first session, the two countries split all of the kata golds, with three going to New Caledonia and one to Fiji.
In kumite events, New Caledonia and Fiji each earned two golds, with Vanuatu and Tahiti picking up a gold medal apiece.
Kata is an event where competitors show off their technique without facing an opponent, whereas kumite pits contestants against each other in a bracket format.
In kata, New Caledonia’s Angelique Mondoloni took gold in the women’s individual.
In the men’s individual Vu Duc Minh Dack claimed more gold for New Caledonia, and added another in the team event when he joined forces with Kevyn Pognon and Arnaud Saturnin.
Fiji took silver in all three kata events that New Caledonia won.
Mondoloni defeated the defending champion, Naomi Bakani (FIJ), in the women’s individual kata, but the Fijian won gold with her compatriots Adi Drodrolagi Kidia and Kalei Seniloli in the women’s team event.
Bakani was able to successfully defend her title in the women’s under 68kg kumite, defeating Romina Rambans (NCL) by a 6-1 score in the final.
“This one was more difficult,” Bakani said of defending her title. “After 2011 I stopped kumite, so I just focused on kata. I started doing kumite [again] last year and I’m still trying to grasp all the knowledge that I had forgotten, so this year is tough.”
Bakani’s teammate Tevita Tamanigaunatawamudu (FIJ) took gold in the men’s under 67kg kumite, defeating Waixen Gregory Waikata (NCL).
New Caledonia’s kumite golds came from Kenny Guillem in the men’s over 84kg and Mathieu Annonier in the men’s under 84kg event.
“I was expecting this victory, I was feeling great,” Guillem said after defeating Johnny Rosses Laau (VAN) 9-0 in the gold medal bout.
“My coach, he trusted me, he let me manage my fight, so from the beginning I started this fight smiling, telling myself ‘this is the one’.”
Annonier had an energetic home crowd against him as he faced Vincent Bougen (PNG) for under 84kg gold, but he came out on top 4-1 in a match that was much closer than the final score suggests.
“They were very motivated,” Annonier said of his competitors throughout the day. “I expected this kind of fight, but when you are in the competition, it’s totally different.”
“I was a bit off-put due to the pressure.”
Tahiti’s Vaitiare Tehaameamea won gold in the women’s over 68kg kumite recording a 4-0 win in the final over Gewa Bianca Rupa (PNG).
Vamule Lango took gold for Vanuatu in the women’s under 50kg final with a 7-1 victory against Jacklyn Barney (PNG).
New Caledonia – which with nine was the leading gold medal winner in the previous Pacific Games in Noumea – will look to maintain it’s gold medal advantage on Tuesday in the final day of karate competition.
“We will rest tonight and refocus, since tomorrow is important,” Annonier said. “We have to defend our title, and we won’t let it go so easily.”
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