by Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
Pacific island nations, Fiji and New Caledonia, remain the biggest challenges to Papua New Guinea, winning gold in the Pacific nations.
Of the fourteen contested games hosted since 1963, only three countries have won.
Fiji took out the Inaugural SP Games in 1963; and Papua New Guinea in 1991, with all other 12 were won by New Caledonia.
New Caledonia’s dominance has stemmed primarily from the pool. Their swimmers topping the standings at the last games held on home soil in Noumea, with 33 out of the 40 gold medals on offer.
That same feat is expected to be on show this time around.
Commonwealth and multiple Pacific Games champion, Ryan Pini, remains the best hope that PNG has in the water.
New Caledonia also come into these games as defending champions in athletics, badminton, basketball, body building, football, golf, karate, sailing, squash, table tennis, tennis, and the triathlon.
Fiji have in recent media reports, stated, they will be bringing the cream of their sport, men and women.
A strong side expected to take the field for Fiji in rugby 7’s, hockey, netball and shooting.
Although their strongest contenders for glory will no doubt be in both Boxing and Athletics.
PNG’s sprinters have shown good progress and punters will have their odds placed on both the home team as well as Fiji, with Toea Wisil still the main custodian on the track. With Betty Burua and Donna Koniel other names alongside.
Powerlifting and taekwondo have had good performances for Papua New Guinea and the individual athletes in the sports have been preparing well.
PNG’s Touch Rugby team are ranked third in the world, behind Australia and New Zealand, with captains Eugene Eka and Vavine Yore, confident of their side as well.
Tahiti have come second on three occasions since 1995 and they too will remain an obstacle.