The Pacific region was awash with sporting excellence from 20th to 21st November as Pacific countries and territories descended on Honiara in the Solomon Islands for the XVII Pacific Games. 129 judoka from 11 Pacific Games Associations gathered at the SIFF Academy to take part in the judo event of the Games.

Eight nations secured medals, with Australia leading the tally, closely followed by New Caledonia and French Polynesia. The judo event served as a celebration of the judo values throughout the two-day extravaganza. The Oceania judo family united on the tatami under the Pacific Games theme 'Iumi Na Iumi,' meaning 'We and Us,' aiming to celebrate and unite the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands.

The venue.

Rehia Davio, former OJU president, said, “Four years ago, at the end of the Pacific Games in Samoa, I exchanged with Josateki Naulu, who was the Technical Director, about my feelings concerning the Games. The event was missing some soul, passion, and commitment on both the organisation side and the competitive side. We agreed on this and so we decided to do something about it. We began by updating the Games chart adding a real open category as in previous editions there had been an open for the light weights and one for the heavyweights. We added a team event as well. I then asked Josateki (Jo) to manage these Games in the Solomon Islands and to manage the universality of the event."

The team event.

"Two years ago, when the PGC came to us (OJU), I recontacted Jo asking him to build the team he wanted for these Games. He asked me to integrate islanders in the organisation side and my reply was simple and clear; he had to work with the team he liked and he was therefore free to choose. He came back to me with a team of islanders: Ovini from Nauru, Tony Lomo from the Solomon Islands and Joe Mahit from Vanuatu, without forgetting Veniana from Fiji. I approved the list immediately.

Next we thought about the IT side of the event and the choice was again simple as we had already worked with Elisabetta Fratini and Huu-Hanh Pham from the IJF. I contacted them and the positive reply was immediate. This was the start of this Games adventure."

A workforce with incredible energy.

"A few days after the end of the Games, I can say that we had a real Games experience. From the organisation point of view everything was smooth, the team exceptional, very professional in all domains. All participating teams were amazed by the atmosphere and the public was also great, to the point where we could see them on the rooves and in the trees all around, watching the event inside, giving an additional islanders feel, an Oceania flavour.

These Games have been what I dreamed the Games to be, with a soul, with a global communion. This is the most important part. To conclude I would like to congratulate everyone, this whole team for the great job they did. As I told Jo as we concluded, we showed that even in Oceania, even with the islanders and their limited events experience, we are able to organise a high level event with all necessary professionalism, just as the IJF leads us to do. Thanks to everyone involved.”

Josateki Naulu said, “The competition showcased Pacific Island judo, featuring beautiful performances by athletes, amplified by enthusiastic support from local Solomon Island fans.

Our gratitude extends to the IJF IT team, led by Mr Huu-Hanh Pham and Ms Elisabetta Fratini, for guiding and educating our team of International Technical Officials from Nauru, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Australia, New Zealand, and the Solomon Islands. I would like to add that this is the first time we have welcomed Australia to the judo event at the Pacific Games and we have been so very pleased to have them here with us.”

Huu-Hanh Pham said, “These Games were a nice human adventure! What a great team we had with the ITO's and the NTO’s. They came from the Oceanian islands with a few from Europe and for some of the team it was their first event at this level, but we had full collaboration from all for even the tiniest details. Nobody was counting hours or output, we all just did what we had to do, helping each other.

The event volunteers shared our common goal, to give the best event to the athletes and delegations. That is a major event for them and we want it to be memorable. We took all constraints and turned them into advantages, raising the level to one comparable with the IJF WJT.

From all countries, we saw judoka with courage, motivation and commitment. Whatever their result, their age or their origin, they were proud of their participation and they shared that with us.

My final words are to thank the one who made it possible, leading with his humanity and really trusting in his team, thanks to Josateki Naulu.”

Results for the individual event can be found here.

Thank you to Huu-Hanh Pham for all photos.

Collaboration at its finest.
See also