Solomon Islands Makes Historic Va’a Debut at 17th Pacific Games

Solomon Islands Makes Historic Va’a Debut at 17th Pacific Games


By Lynton A. Filia

The Solomon Islands’ debut in the 17th Pacific Games for Va’a competition marked a historic moment for both men and women athletes in Honiara. Despite receiving their equipment just five weeks before the Games, the team achieved third place in the open men’s V12 heats and made it to the final in sixth place for open women’s V12 heats, a result of true determination.

Competing against experienced Va’a countries, the Solomon Islands team showcased their natural talent and adaptability. Betty Kafoa, Vice President and Head Coach for Solomon Islands in Va’a/Outrigger canoeing, expressed pride in her team’s performance with SIBC.

“Our canoes arrived in May. We are natural-born paddlers,” Kafoa stated.

“Inside these new canoes, we’ve mastered the techniques. I am proud of my team. Every other country has been paddling for years, but for us, it’s new. We can be a threat in the coming years.”

Kafoa emphasized the significance of the team’s achievements, given their limited training time. “Today, other countries are surprised. They thought we have been paddling for years, but we started just six months ago. It’s not the result we aimed for, but I’m content,” she said.

Highlighting the women’s team’s performance, Kafoa expressed her admiration. “I’m surprised by our girls’ participation. They made a big effort and entered the finals with Tahiti and New Caledonia. I am proud of them and the boys,” she stated.

Kafoa acknowledged the importance of expanding the team’s recruitment base. “I’m looking forward to more athletes joining. I need a variety to choose from. If we have exposure from the provinces, I’m sure we’ll be competitive,” she explained.

Sabrina Habu, an athlete, echoed the team’s optimism, despite their defeat in the V12 500-meter race. “Today, we reached our fastest time ever, 2 minutes 12 seconds, setting a world record, showing we can compete at bigger competitions,” she said.

Habu emphasized the importance of perseverance and experience. “This shows that we can do it, and everyone can. We’re new to the sport, we just need more experience, time, and faith,” she stated.

The Solomon Islands Va’a team is set to continue their journey in the open women’s and men’s 1500-meter and 500-meter categories at DC Park tomorrow. Their dedication and passion for the sport demonstrate the true spirit of the Pacific Games.

Meanwhile, the term “Va’a” means “boat” or “canoe” in Samoan and Hawaiian, defining the modern sport of outrigger canoeing. –ENDS

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