VANUATU has won four gold medals among a total of 10 medals in a very successful Oceania Judo Union Continental Open this week end – the first international competition held in Vanuatu.
It was also the last time athletes will get a chance to fight at an international level before the Van2017 Pacific Mini Games.
Among the gold winners were former Olympian and national champion Nazario Fiakaifonu, who won gold in the over 100kg class, while national coach Nicholas Monvoisin picked up his gold in the under 90 kg section, fellow national coach Florence Daoleuang won gold in the under 57kg class, and Marceau Rouvonne picked up gold in the under 73kg class.
The Open was held at the Warwick Le Legon, Port Vila on Saturday, November 11 with a tatami mat in the main hall.
Vanuatu entered the largest team with 14 men and two women.
Five other countries attended – Australia, USA, Hong Kong, PNG and a lone contestant from French Polynesia.Backing up after his three-month stint at a judo training centre in Budapest, Hungary, Joe Mahit was keen to test his improved skills and techniques.
The home town favourite made it to the bronze bout in the under 66kg section. However, he lost to Yuk Tina Lee of Hong Kong.
Mahit said he had learnt many valuable lessons from the weekend’s competition.
“The fight with Yuk wasn’t easy,’’ he said.
“It was an opportunity for me to see my real level and to see how far I can go.
“I’m here also thanks to my physical preparation and my hard judo sessions with my coach Florence Daoleuang.’’
Former Olympian and National Champion, Nazario Fiakaifonu ,29, said he also used the competition to test his skills.
“It was a big honour to fight in front of my people, but I have now recognised where I need to improve before the (Mini Pacific) Games.”
The competition was followed on Sunday with two-hour training sessions hosted by the Oceania Judo on the tatami at the conference centre.
During his bout Mahit, 25, injured his right shoulder. He missed Sunday’s training session, taking medical advice to rest and immobilise the shoulder.
Watching from the sidelines, Mahit said he must work harder and work through this set-back to be ready for the Games.
“It is the greatest honour to fight for your country and I will not let Vanuatu down,’’ he said.