Pacific women appear more likely to win medals at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham than their male compatriots, according to past achievements.
At the 2018 Games, nine Pacific women won medals compared to seven men however both sexes shared two gold medals each.
Pacific nations have traditionally excelled at weightlifting, and not had much success on the tracks, with the fastest men and women often only making it to the semi-final rounds.
The long distance events are generally dominated by runners from Africa.
In rugby sevens, New Zealand has held a tight grip on the gold medal, winning every gold since sevens was added to the Commonwealth Games. Olympic champions Fiji have had little luck at the Commonwealth Games and will be striving to change that in Birmingham.
Of the 26 sports at the current games, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand, most Pacific nations are competing in just eight or nine. A majority of the sports are non-existent in the region.
There will be one Pacific leader, Niue’s premier Dalton Tagelagi, competing in lawn bowls.
Some of the Pacific athletes who will be medal contenders at the 2022 Games:
Fegaia Stowers, Samoa, weightlifting. This young woman is a true champion. She became a Commonwealth gold medalist at the age of 18 years and at now at 22, she goes into the games with more experience. An International Labour Organisation ambassador, she set a new Oceania record in the 90kg category for women in March this year.
Steven Kari, PNG, weightlifting. In the 2018 Games, Steven Kari won the Pacific’s first gold medal of the Commonwealth Games with a record-breaking lift on the Gold Coast. The Papua New Guinean set a new Commonwealth Games record in the clean and jerk as he defended the men’s 94kg weightlifting title in a dramatic finish.
Eileen Cikamatana, Australia, weightlifting. Formerly a Fiji representative, she has been dubbed as Australia’s best kept secret. She was a gold medalist in the women’s 90 kg event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and was named 2017 Fiji’s sportswoman of the year. However in a highly controversial move, she was omitted from consideration for the 2018 Fiji sports awards following her gold medal winning. In the wake of a dispute between Weightlifting Fiji and breakaway group Fiji Weightlifters Association, she committed to representing Australia in February 2019 and was able to return to international competition later that year.
New Zealand/Fiji, sevens rugby. For the men’s competition, it will be hard to say which of the teams will be favourite but there is a high likelihood that the gold will go to a Pacific team. In the women’s sevens it may be a straight-forward path to gold for New Zealand but they will have plenty of competition. Fiji has been in form after going into the sevens circuit after interruption from the pandemic.
Vanuatu, women’s beach volleyball. Prior to 2018, Vanuatu had never won a medal at the Commonwealth Games. The nation competed in 10 of the 20 twenty previous Commonwealth Games starting in 1982. Vanuatu won its first medals at the 2018 games, when Friana Kwevira won bronze in the women’s F46 javelin throw and Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu won bronze in beach volleyball. Vanuatu’s women beach volleyball players have been on the international scene for some time and have delivered great performances. The team has vowed to do better this year.