Australian Team announced for Pacific Games as countdown hits one month to go
7 June 2019
SAMOA 2019: Forty-two athletes have today been announced on the Australia Team for the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, running 7-20 July, 2019.
In one month the 16th instalment of the Pacific Games will bring together over 5000 athletes and officials from 24 Pacific Nations to compete across 27 sports.
Australian will be represented by 58 athletes in the Samoan capital, Apia, in the sports of Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Rugby 7s, Sailing and Weightlifting, with a 16-strong Taekwondo team to be announced following their selection event in Sydney on 8 June.
With world rankings key to Tokyo 2020 qualification, athletes in Athletics, Taekwondo and Weightlifting will be eyeing off valuable ranking points in Apia.
Dual Olympian Melissa Breen and London 2012 Olympic finalist Steve Solomon are bringing their vast experience to the Team. 26-year-old Solomon said the Pacific Games are an important milestone on his journey towards qualifying for a second Olympic experience.
“I'm tremendously proud and excited to don the green and gold at the upcoming Pacific Games. Each opportunity to represent Australia is a privilege, and I know that the flag above my heart will inspire me to great speeds in Samoa,” Solomon said.
“A strong performance in Samoa will set up my campaign for Olympic qualification nicely, and I hope that I can head into 2020 with some fast performances to afford me plenty of training runway ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.”
The athletics team also boasts the likes of 2018 Youth Olympic gold medallist Keely Small (800m), and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games athletes Brianna Beahan (100m hurdles), Alexandra Hulley (hammer throw), Ian Bewhurst (400m hurdles) and Emmanuel Fakiye (triple jump).
Eight women and seven men make up Australia’s 15-strong weightlifting contingent, including 21-year-old Kiana Elliott who has five national titles to her name, represented Australia at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics, and is a 15-time Australian Team representative.
As a 17-year-old, Elliott won bronze at the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea, which was her first Senior competition. Four years later, the former gymnast-turned-weightlifter is back on the team, with Tokyo 2020 in her sights as her major goal.
“Being selected on this Team means it’s time to get down to business,” Elliott said.
“The Pacific Games are an important stepping stone toward Tokyo 2020. It is one of six events where athletes can earn ROBI points which contribute to the overall Weightlifting rankings for Tokyo qualification.”
Olympic ranking points aside, the Pacific Games will provide invaluable multi-sport competition experience for the Australian athletes who will all live together in the
Games village, train alongside each other, share meals in the dining hall, and travel around the island to support their fellow teammates in sports vastly different to their own.
Australian Chef de Mission Kenny Wallace congratulated the athletes on their selection to the Team, reminding them that the Games are about so much more than medals and finals.
“Getting to represent your country with pride by wearing the green and gold is an incredible achievement and humbling experience,” the three-time Olympian said.
“You are not only representing yourself, but every family member, friend, or Australian that has supported you in some way along this journey.
“While medal performances will be admired, it will be the athletes having a crack to push the boundaries of their personal bests that will be celebrated.”
Drawing on his own experiences, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Champion encouraged the Team to make the most of the experiences the unique multi-sport event will offer.
“The athletes will come home from Samoa, not only with their best possible performance, but with memories of the experiences and friendships they’ve made with athletes from other sports.
“From my own experience, I know that the athletes you are traveling and competing with will not only be your fiercest competitors, but also your mates throughout your career and beyond.”
Following her experience at the 2015 Pacific Games, Elliott shared Wallace’s opinion on the multi-sport experience.
“I love being part of a bigger Australian Team and getting to watch and share in the triumphs and tribulations of other sports - it brings a bit more perspective to why we’re all investing so much into sport,” she said.
“The captivating stories of individual athletes, each with their own journey of hard work, sacrifice and the pursuit of excellence, are all values which are common to excelling anywhere in life.”
The inaugural Games were named the ‘South Pacific Games’ and held in Suva, Fiji in 1963. They were renamed the ‘Pacific Games’ in 1998.
Australia was first invited to participate in the Pacific Games at the 2015 edition in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The team of 43 athletes from Sailing, Taekwondo, Weightlifting and Rugby 7s returned home with 47 medals.
The Samoa 2019 competition schedule is available HERE.
Australian Team for Samoa 2019 Pacific Games
Brianna Beahan - 100m Hurdles
Melissa Breen - 100m / 200m
Alexandra Hulley - Hammer Throw
Keely Small - 800m
Ian Dewhurst - 400m Hurdles
Emmanuel Fakiye - Triple Jump
Steven Solomon - 400m
Rugby 7s – women
Paris Van Den Herik