Team Solomon Va’a settles for fourth place in historic finals
By Lynton A. Filia
Team Solomon Va’a today wrapped up their inaugural appearance in the 17th Pacific Games with an impressive fourth-place finish in the Va’a men’s open V6 1500 meters at DC Park, east Honiara.
Despite tough competition from Tahiti, Fiji, and Wallis and Futuna, the team’s performance stands as a remarkable achievement for the country.
In their debut on this stage, Team Solomon showcased their skills and talent, defying expectations for a first-time appearance. Their display highlighted their potential and capacity to compete at a higher level.
Eric Chow, President of Solomon Islands Va’a/Outrigger canoeing, highlighted the invaluable insights gained from this experience, viewing it as a stepping stone towards a stronger display in the next edition, four years from now.
“This Pacific Games was a learning curve for Va’a Team Solomon,” Chow explained. “There’s much yet to learn about this sport, but the essence lies in technique and the collective effort within the team to navigate the canoe.”
“The competition offered plenty of learning opportunities for the team, immersing them in the nuances of the sport while fostering a competitive character. The five-day event presented a substantial learning curve, pushing the team beyond their existing boundaries.”
“Va’a, deeply rooted in Solomon Islands’ cultural heritage, signifies unity and connectivity among Pacific island countries. The canoe not only serves as a sporting symbol but also as a mode of transportation between islands, schools, and markets, embodying shared traditions among Pacific nations.”
Looking ahead, Chow outlined plans for the Va’a federation to incorporate the cultural essence of canoeing by collaborating with provinces to integrate local canoe designs into future competitions. This initiative aims to elebrate the sport’s heritage and the country’s distinct cultural identity.
Reflecting on their performance in the final, team captain Rodney Vaka expressed pride in their journey to the final and suggested areas for future enhancement, particularly emphasizing power, fitness, and strength.
Recognizing the steadfast support from fellow Solomon Islanders, Rodney extended gratitude to supporters, coaches, the federation, and athletes for their unwavering dedication despite the challenging outcomes.
“Today’s lessons include techniques for navigating strong currents and synchronizing our paddling rhythm,” he added.
Rodney emphasized the friendship within the team throughout the tournament, highlighting the joy and sportsmanship displayed during their initial runs and heats.
While the outcome might not have favoured them, Rodney emphasized the team’s wholehearted effort.
“Our debut in this 17th Pacific Games means a significant step for the country’s Va’a community. The boys’ performance showcased their potential to compete at the highest level, and the lessons derived from this experience will undoubtedly chart the course for future success.” –ENDS//