SOUTH PACIFIC GAMES 2007 – New Caledonia Dominates Badminton in Samoa

Every four years the Pacific comes together to compete in the South Pacific Games, a multi-sport event that is by its very design of and for the Pacific. This year’s […]

ImageEvery four years the Pacific comes together to compete in the South Pacific Games, a event that is by its very design of and for the Pacific. This year’s event will have 22 Pacific Island nations and territories with approximately 4,000 participants competing in 32 sporting events, including badminton. Players can compete for medals in the team and individual competitions.

By Lynne Scutt, Badzine Correspondent

In the last SPG in 2003, Fiji dominated the competition, with a gold in the team event and with No. 1 singles player Karyn Whiteside taking away 3 individual gold medals. This time it was the turn of New Caledonia (pictured), who had been working hard towards this event for a long time, and their commitment and dedication definitely paid off.

New Champion in the Team Event

First up at the Apia Park Stadium was the mixed team event and would be a round robin competition. All teams were ranked on current world rankings which meant favorites New Caledonia would face the next best team in the competition, Fiji, in the first round. This was a great match up with New Caledonia proving too strong and winning 4-1.

The only other obstacle would be the Samoan team, who had included the services of Auckland-based A’e Wilson and Melbourne-based Hesiti Mafaufau to boost their team lineup, but once again the New Caledonians had too much depth and experience in their team and convincingly beat the Samoans 4-1. On the second day of competition, Fiji played off against the hosts Samoa for the silver medal winning 4-1 pushing Samoa into the bronze position.

Final results for the team event
GOLD – New Caledonia
BRONZE – Samoa

Individual Championships

The draws for the individual events were definitely surprising and, for some, disappointing but because of the current world ranking points, many of the top players in the competition weren’t seeded. This would mean that some of the title favorites would meet before the medal rounds. Part of the experience of playing in Samoa was dealing with the extreme heat and humid conditions which made playing very hard.

ImageAndra Claims the Gold

The biggest match in the early rounds was the battle between the New Caledonia No. 1 Valerie Sarengat and Fiji No. 1 Andra Whiteside in the ladies’ singles. Neither player was seeded but they were clearly the top two in the competition, but Andra Whiteside of Fiji (pictured), one of the youngest in the badminton competition, won in a huge 3-game battle to then meet the top seed and local favourite Hesiti Mafaufau in the quarter-finals. Andra battled through another 3-game match to gain a place in the semi-final.

Andra then went on to the final by beating her New Caledonian opponent and eventual bronze medallist Cecile Sarengat and then Johanna Kou in the final, also from New Caledonia. After receiving her gold medal, Andra said “I was really happy because it wasn’t something I was expecting, so I was definitely wrapped with the accomplishment”.

ImageTriple GOLD to Marc Antoine

The rest of the events were dominated by the New Caledonian team. Out of the 15 medals available in the individual competition, the New Caledonian Team took home 10.

Marc Antoine Desaymoz (pictured) was definitely the star of the games, winning 3 gold medals to go with his gold in the team event. Marc didn’t drop a single game in any of his matches and cruised to victory in the men’s singles, in the men’s doubles with Florent Mahey and in the mixed with Johanna Kou. There was disappointment for Fiji when their No. 1 man Burty Molia injured his calf and had to pull out of the singles quarter-finals and also the men’s doubles. Molia and Ryan Fong were definite medal chances in the men’s doubles. Fong was also injured in his mixed semi-final and was unable to play for the gold medal, handing the New Caledonians another gold.

Johanna Kou of New Caledonia also had a great tournament, winning the silver in ladies’ singles and gold in the ladies’ and mixed doubles.

Individual Results

Men’s Singles:
GOLD – Marc Antoine Desaymoz (NC)
SILVER – Arnaud Franzi (NC)
BRONZE – Fabien Kaddour (NC)
Ladies’ Singles:
GOLD – Andra Whiteside (FIJI)
SILVER – Johanna Kou (NC)
BRONZE – Cecile Sarengat (NC)
Men’s Doubles:
GOLD – Marc Antoine Desaymoz & Florent Mahey (NC)
SILVER – Fabien Kaddour & Arnaud Franzi (NC)
BRONZE – Ghee Ming Fong & Damien Ah Sam (FIJI)
Ladies’ Doubles:
GOLD – Cecile Sarengat & Johanna Kou (NC)
SILVER – Andra Whiteside & Danielle Whiteside (FIJI)
BRONZE – Hesiti Mafaufau & A’e Wilson (SAM)
Mixed Doubles:
GOLD – Marc Antoine Desaymoz & Johanna Kou (NC)
SILVER – Ryan Fong & Danielle Whiteside (FIJI)
BRONZE – Fabien Kaddour & Valerie Sarengat (NC)

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