Cassier overcomes grief to win men’s hammer gold

Eric Reuillard (NCL) won the men's pole vault at Port Moresby 2015. Photo by Dave Buller.

Eric Reuillard (NCL) won the men’s pole vault at Port Moresby 2015. Photo by Dave Buller.

By Daniel Kerwin and Ingrid Cosnier, Games News Service

PORT MORESBY, July 15 – Many athletes have to overcome injuries in their preparation for big events.

Erwan Cassier (NCL) had some deeper healing to go through in getting ready for the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games.

Cassier won gold in the men’s hammer with a throw of 61.52 metres on Wednesday at BSP Stadium, his victory coming just two months after he suffered the loss of his father, former hammer thrower and coach Frederic Cassier (NCL).

“I was hoping to get this medal – I wanted to get it for my father, to honour him,” Cassier said.

“He passed away two months ago, so it was really important to enter into Games history.”

Cassier’s throw was just short of the Games record of 61.78 metres.

Samoa’s Alexander Rose took silver with a throw of 58.66 metres and Eutesio Toto (NCL) took bronze with a 55.96 metre effort.

“We are very happy, we won gold and bronze today, one of our best performances of the past year, so we’ve done our best today,” Cassier said. “It’s a great satisfaction for us.”

Frederic Cassier was also the coach for women’s hammer gold medalist Elise Takosi, who was in the field for the women’s discus on Wednesday.

Gold in the event went to Tereapii Tapoki (COK), her third Pacific Games gold in a row following her titles in Samoa 2007 and Noumea 2011.

“I’m happy with it – I could have done better, though,” Tapoki said. “I wanted to break my own record at these Games (from 2007), but maybe next time.”

Atanasia Takosi (NCL), Elise’s sister, ended up as the silver medalist with a throw of 41.49 metres. Kasandra Vegas (SAM) took bronze with a fling of 40.23 metres in her final attempt.

In the men’s pole vault, Eric Reuillard (NCL) picked up his fourth career Pacific Games gold medal with a jump of 4.60 metres, well clear of silver medalist Karo Iga’s (PNG) jump of 3.85 metres. Jean-Bernard Harper took bronze with a jump of 3.80 metres.

Reuillard had the crowd clapping in unison as he pushed for the Games record of 5.0 metres, but he said the pole he was using wasn’t hard enough to accomplish such a tall jump.

“It’s incredible and amazing here, so we have a lot of supporters,” Reuillard said. “I’m very glad to have won this gold medal.”

The pole vault competition saw a scary situation midway through when Peniel Richard (PNG) fell on his second attempt at 3.70 metres and was taken away on a stretcher. The diagnosis from Dr. Beena Kulau (PNG) was that he had suffered a broken left arm.

Reuillard, who at 35 doesn’t spend as much time training as he used to, is hoping to add to his three gold in pole vault and one gold in decathlon at the next Pacific Games in Tonga.

In the meantime, he hopes his experience at Port Moresby 2015 will come in handy when he returns to his regular job as a physical education teacher.

“I am a teacher, so I’m happy to teach to my pupils that you can win the gold medal,” Reuillard said. “I hope they will follow in my way.”

BSP Stadium was once more packed to capacity on Wednesday, a fact that was clear to the athletes.

“We are lucky here as there is an excellent crowd supporting all the athletes,” Toto said. “We are proud to be here.”

“This is the first time we have had such a crowd and that many people supporting us, and supporting the Papua New Guinean athletes as much as us.”

GNS dk/ic/jf/jl

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