Team Fiji Va’a V6 made a winning return at the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, clinching the silver and bronze medals in the women and men’s 1500m categories, respectively.
This achievement comes after being unplaced at the last Pacific Games in Samoa in 2019.
The women’s team improved from their semifinals time of 10:41.43 to clock in at 10:03.43, while the equally determined men’s team secured a bronze with a faster time of 8:29.89 compared to their semifinal time of 8:59.30, achievements pointed out by Va’a Women’s coach Michael Fong as unprecedented back home in similar conditions.
Fong attributed their success to a year-long intensive training program focused on conditioning and building trust within the teams.
As part of their Games prep, the team had trained in various conditions back home, anticipating the unpredictable elements they faced in Honiara.
Reflecting on the journey, Fong underscored the importance of unity and trust among team members. “We just wanted them to paddle as one,” said Fong.
Throughout the heats, semifinals, and finals, the consistent message was for the athletes to trust each other and rely on their training.