New Caledonia and Tahiti maintain pool dominance to the end

Swimming in the rain: The start of the men's 200m backstroke at Taurama Aquatic Centre on Saturday. Photo by Isaac Tauno.

Swimming in the rain: The start of the men’s 200m backstroke at Taurama Aquatic Centre on Saturday. Photo by Isaac Tauno.

PORT MORESBY, July 12 – Usual suspects New Caledonia and Tahiti won three gold medals each in 2015 Pacific Games swimming pool action at Taurama Aquatic Centre on Saturday, while PNG and Fiji won five medals each in the evening’s seven events.

One of the five Fijian medals was a gold to Cheyenne Rova in the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:30.00 flat, beating Savannah Tkatchenko (PNG) and teammate Brooke Smith for silver and bronze respectively.

New Caledonia’s gold medals came via Emma Terebo’s record mark of 26.26 in the women’s 50m freestyle, Lara Grangeon in the women’s 200m butterfly and the women’s 4x100m medley relay team (4:23.62), who were over 15 seconds clear of PNG in second and Fiji in third.

Terebo was thrilled with her results at Port Moresby 2015.

“Last day, last individual race, everything went well,” she said. “Another Games record, another gold medal and my best time so far, so eveything’s great.”

“It has been a great week, I didn’t expect to perform at that level. It’s just crazy.”

Grangeon meanwhile dominated the 200m butterfly, touching in 2:11.89 and more than 18 seconds ahead of Fijian pair Tieri Erasito (FIJ) and Rosemarie Rova (FIJ) in second and third place. Grangeon shattered her own previous Games record of 2:17.34.

Grangeon missed out on quaifying for the women’s 200m backstroke final earlier in the day after being disqualified for an improper touch at the end of her heat.

“Of course I was really disappointed. This race was important to me, I simply wanted to win it, but then I made a mistake,” Grangeon said. “But you learn from your mistakes, so I will be more aware of these rules in my future championships. I won’t do it again.”

The trio of Tahitian gold all came in the men’s events.

Nineteen-year-old 200m backstroker Teiki Dupont clocked 2:09.19 to beat Hugo Tormento (NCL) and Brandon Schuster (SAM), while Rahiti De Vos won the men’s 1500m freestyle in 15:50.16, well clear of New Caledonia’s Jeremie Dufourmantelle (16:17.52) and PNG’s Sheldon Plummer Aragata (18:02.31).

Dupont though had mixed feelings when asked about the win, but for good reason.

“True happiness,” Dupont said. “I am disappointed by my time though. At the end I slowed down a little bit as I knew the 4x100m (medley relay) was coming straight after.”

True to their words, the Tahitian men made sure there were no special favours for PNG ‘superfish’ Ryan Pini’s final hurrah in the medley relay, hanging on to record 3:48.40 and beat PNG into second by 1.13 seconds with New Caledonia a further 2.00 seconds behind in third.

Pini was still handed the honour of male swimmer of the meet after winning seven gold medals, with Grangeon winning female swimmer of the meet with a haul of 11 gold medals.

“The feeling is very awesome, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than this,” Pini said of ending his fifth and final Pacific Games in front of his home fans.

Though he continues to talk about his retirement, Pini is remaining non-committal about when he will finally hang up his swim cap and goggles – understandably so after such a strong Games.

“While this is my last Pacific Games, I’ll always be in the water,” Pini said. “If I’m still competing well, then I might do some Worlds, Masters, and things like that. I’ll be here. But this Pacific Games, the last one for me, is very special.”

GNS dk/ic/pg

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