Leilani Guerry Wong Foo dominated the women's elite race. Photo Ethan Stewart
Tahiti French Polynesia triathletes took four of six medals on offer in the Elite Sprint race of the ITU Pacific Islands Triathlon Championships (P.I.T.C.) held in Apia on Saturday 1 December. The nation won the women’s gold medal with youngster Leilani Guerry Wong Foo, and took out the entire elite men’s podium. Fiji won the other two women’s medals with Sadie Pattie winning Silver and Grace Takape winning the Bronze medal.
In the men’s race Benjamin Zorgnotti, 24, won the Gold medal in 56mins 35secs. Zorgnotti was the silver medallist at the PNG Pacific Games in 2015 and will be looking to elevate that to Gold at the Pacific Games in Apia next July. He was unchallenged at the finish ahead of team-mate Raphael Armour-Lazzari (56min 30secs). Vianney Videau finished third in 59mins 33secs. Videau shrugged off a bad fall in the bike to still claim third spot.
Young Leilani was in a race on her own. She led from the start to the tape and finished a clear 10 minutes ahead of Pattie and 20 minutes clear of third place. It was not like that in the men’s race. Vianney was first out of the swim in the men’s swim, Raph was out second and Samoa’s Raea Khan third all within seconds of each other. Benjamin and Matahiari’i were out next and only a second apart between them in the swim. Once out of the water then Benjamin dictated the race with superior biking and running.
Samoa’s Raea finished fourth in 1hr 3mins 7secs. Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga shared the other placings. Tahiti’s domination cameas no surprise. They were well drilled, better organised and have access to high performance training and competition in France.
Promising triathlete Sadie Pattie of Fiji in the Women's elite race. Photo Ethan Stewart
There were a few challenges faced by the host federation. It was very slow closing the roads which resulted in the run course being cut short by 1.3 km. That resulted in fast times for a Sprint race. For the Games in July, the Games' LOC will handle a number of logistics such as road closures, finish line, transition, swim pontoon and start, first aid and medical, volunteers and transport movement.
The P.I.T.C. race in Samoa carried ITU points, the first time a race in the Oceania islands is accredited with Olympic points. The race was run in the same course that will be used in the Pacific Games next year. Now that Tahiti have had a good look at it, they are well placed to podium well in July.
The other island nations including Samoa will take a lot from the race, not least the realisation that success at the Pacific Games 2019 will look a lot different for them than Tahiti. Triathlon podium at Pacific Games has been dominated by the two French territories Tahiti and New Caledonia. In the 2011, 2015 and 2007 Games, no other nation outside Tahiti and New Caledonia managed a podium placing. The Tahitian team that dominated in Apia is likely to be stronger again with older experienced athletes being selected for the Games.
Tahiti's Vianney Videau overcame a bike fall to win Bronze medal. Photo Ethan Stewart
GOLD, Benjamin Zorgnotti Tahiti 53mins 35secs
SILVER, Raphael Armour-Lazzari Tahiti 56mins 30secs
BRONZE, Vianney Videau Tahiti 59mins 33secs
4th, Raea Khan SAMOA 1hr 3mins 7secs
5th, Matahiari'i Bodin Tahiti 1hr 4mins 11secs
6th, Rhys Cheer FIJI 1hr 5mins 50secs
7th, Timson Irowane SOL Islands 1hr 9mins 46secs
8th, Steve Nimarota SAM 1hr 11mins 30secs
9th, Petero Manoa FIJ 1hr 12mins 26secs
10th, Andrew Lapuka TONGA 1hr 12mins 32secs
11th, Patrick Newmann SOL Islands 1hr 16mins 19secs
1. GOLD Leilani Guerry Wong Foo Tahiti 1hr 5mins 37secs
2. SILVER Sandie Pattie FIJI 1hr 15mins 31secs
3. BRONZE Grace Takape FIJI 1hr 25mins 57secs
Age Group (Mixed)
1. Holly Khan Australia 1hr 5mins 36secs
2. Gideon Mulitalo SAM 1hr 10mins 18secs
3. Ty Feekings Australia 1hr 15mins 39secs
4. Sachin Desai USA 1hr 23mins 16secs
5. Kat Riley Australia 1hr 23mins 39secs
GOLD Darcy Keenan Fitzpatrick FIJI
SILVER Timaima Takape FIJI
BRONZE Tofu So'oa'emalelagi SAM
4th, Urlin Mulitalo SAM
5th, Palepua Afoa SAM
6th, Violani Afoa SAM
In my other life, I cover the All Blacks, Boxing, watch the Weather and of course manage Samoa Events