Pacific Games

Our Badminton Win Close Battles To Claim Gold

Sisters Karen and Andra kept composure to survive tests from New Caledonia, Tahiti
12 Jul 2019 15:48
Our Badminton Win Close Battles To Claim Gold
From left: Karen Gibson and Andra Whiteside during the Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa on July 8, 2019. They won the gold medal in the team event on Wednesday night. Photo: Anasilini Natoga

The Fiji badminton team event secured gold after collecting 59 points followed by New Caledonia 49 and Tahiti with 48 points.

The Brent Munday coached- side were hopeful that New Caledonia beat Tahiti. New Caledonia did that and this gave them the advantage of securing the top spot.

Fiji had beaten New Caledonia on Tuesday.

Sisters Karen Gibson and Andra Whiteside said there was a lot of pressure to win against New Caledonia.

“We just had to compose ourselves, be calm and communicate,” she said.

Gibson was close to not taking part on Tuesday. She had get administered with saline drip on Sunday after suffering from severe dehydration.

On Wednesday, it was all or nothing for New Caledonia and Tahiti one of the biggest matches at the Mixed Team event so far.

A win for Tahiti would secure a gold medal while New Caledonia would bring Fiji into the equation in a three-way tie and a countback on games won/ lost would commence.

New Caledonia were fast off the blocks to unsettle the first seeds from Tahiti. Johanna Kou and Ronan Ho-Yagues got the first point on the board with an impressive victory in the mixed doubles.

Tahiti’s golden boy and Oceania’s 2019 men’s singles runner-up, Rémi Rossi, looked flustered in the opening game of his men’s singles.

New Caledonia’s Morgan Paitio looked in control throughout the first game, controlling the game until 17-15. However, a net roll by Rossi changed the momentum and he went on to take the game in two.

New Caledonia responded in the women’s singles as Dgenyva Matauli took the match in two games, before Tahiti retaliated with interest in the men’s doubles, leaving it all up to a deciding Women’s doubles- Johanna Kou and Dgenyva Matauli (New Caledonia) and Coralie Bouttin and Esther Tau (Tahiti) were given the ultimate task in the deciding women’s doubles.

Met by an electric crowd, fellow Tahitian’s and New Caledonian’s from multiple other sports showed up to cheer on the teams.

Ultimately, it was the New Caledonian’s who held the most control and ensured the results came down to a countback. The experienced Johanna Kou (who ‘doubles’ up as both player and President of the Ligue) and Matauli took the game 21-16 21-17 after 22 intense minutes of action.

As the results tallied up, it became clear that Fiji’s emphatic win against the second seeds, New Caledonia, and a nail-biting close defeat at the hands of first seeds, Tahiti, was key to their success. Additionally, Fiji achieved a feat no other team had achieved; a 5-0 victory against all the other teams: Samoa, Kiribati, Northern Marianas and Tonga.

Therefore, the countback on games won/lost presented Fiji with the greatest margin, followed by New Caledonia and Tahiti came third.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: anasilinir@fijisun.com.fj

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