Table tennis underlines golden day for Vanuatu

By: Radio New Zealand


eight_col_van_teamsVanuatu have made history with their double success in table tennis at the Pacific Mini Games.

It was the first gold medal for the women’s team since 2009 and the first ever for the men.

Women’s captain Anolyn Lulu said their hard work paid off.

“Well I can say that we really prepared for this and performing in front of our home crowd this is a first time for us and we wanted to make our people proud and we did it,” she said.

Anolyn Lulu, Priscilla Tommy and Liopa Santhy all won their opening matches against New Caledonia to clinch top spot, with the reverse singles not required.

Santhy then reeled off seven straight points to claim the set, match and gold medal.

Lulu said it meant a lot to play in front of a vocal and passionate home crowd.

“Performing outside when nobody else watches you or cheers for you but performing on your home ground it can be an advantage and also a disadvantage because we’ve never got used to the crowd,” she said.

“But, for me, I really prepared because I want to show my parents and my kids and the whole people of Vanuatu this is how we play overseas, this is how we represented Vanuatu.

“We fight to win medals and we did it.”

Liopa Santhy put the icing on the cake for the victorious women's team

Liopa Santhy put the icing on the cake for the victorious women’s team Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie

The men’s final was a much tighter affair with Yoshua Shing winning the deciding fifth match three sets to one to create a bit of history.

“We’ve never won a gold medal in our history of table tennis in Vanuatu so for us I think it’s first gold medal for our boys on the team,” Shing said.

“It’s very very important for us and we’re so grateful. We’ve put a lot of hard work, a lot of training, a lot of sweat into this moment and we’re also proud of this.”

Vanuatu's men's table tennis team win an historic gold

Vanuatu’s men’s table tennis team win an historic gold Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie

Judo kick-starts medal rush

Judoka Joe Mahit won Vanuatu’s first medal of the Mini Games, with a runners up effort in the men’s 66kg category.

The 25 year old, who went to the Rio Olympics, says a shoulder injury had been causing some trouble so he was more than happy with a silver medal.

“It makes me proud, really happy to win a medal in front of my home crowd just makes me really happy.”

Vanuatu also won three more medals in judo with Kalo Claude taking third place behind Joe Mahit, Nasse Loic Michel finishing third in the men’s 60kg division and Willie Tom taking silver in the men’s 73kg division.

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