Vateitei Wins First Gold Medal in Paddling Triumph at Solo Pacific Games

Nine years into her paddling journey, Elenoa Vateitei, a 24-year-old from Namuka, Bau in Tailevu, has clinched her first Gold Medal in her third Pacific Games outing.

Reflecting on her Gold medal win in the Women’s V1 500m race today, she pointed out the importance of having a strong support system, stating, “Yes, hard work does pay off, but having the right people by your side makes it more incredible and magical, such as this moment.”

Expressing gratitude for the support she received, Vateitei acknowledged the contribution of her coach, the one person who knows both her best and worst moments. She also credited her parents, who have been supporting her since the beginning of her paddling journey, saying, “I owe this to them.”

“A lot of work has been put into this, but I owe it to the people who have helped me come this far.”

Vateitei made her debut in the Pacific Games at 16 in Port Moresby, PNG, back in 2015. Fast forward to the present, Vateitei has turned her previous Silver medal finishers into a Gold Medal achievement.

“I have been hitting second place in the podium in Samoa (2019) and in Saipan, the Mini Games, and this is actually my first time hitting the Gold.”

The road to victory at Iumi Water Sports Park in Honiara this morning was not without its challenges, as Vateitei admitted, “I got off to a very rough start in the heats.” The finals became a stage for Vateitei to reaffirm her commitment, repeatedly telling herself to “trust my training and trust the process.”

Vateitei shifts her focus to her events tomorrow. with the V6 500m and the V6 1500m races.

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