Team Vanuatu and the New Millennium
The first Pacific Mini Games of the new millennium was held on Norfolk Island in 2001.
Vanuatu sent a Netball Team and an Athletics team consisting of nine males and one female.
The team won one silver and two bronze medals, all in Athletics. Jimmy Sandy Sam (aka Sandy Okau & Sandy Molu) won the silver medal in the 10000m event recording a National record time of 33:19.04secs. He also won a bronze medal in the 5000m (15:59.38s).
The 10000m race ended in controversy with Team Vanuatu and Jimmy eventually accepting apologies from the Tahiti team after the gold medal winner displayed poor sportsmanship in his run down the final straight to the finish line.
Expanding their medal collection in the Men's 4x400m Relay, Team Vanuatu (Moses Kamut, Alone Molisingi, Peter-Paul Enkae and David Thomas) won bronze, posting the time of 3:22.37s. This is would be the fourth consecutive Mini Games’ relay medal since claiming the gold in 1985.
The next full South Pacific Games were held in Suva, Fiji (2003) and Vanuatu performed well winning two gold medals, nine silver and eight bronze.
Boxing led the way with one gold medal, two silver and four bronze.
The gold medal was won by Mark Peter Nauka in the 69kg Division with the two silver medals going to Charley Kamatim (51kg) and Tom Majura (60kg).
Harold Gavika won bronze in the 54kg Division and was joined by Tarwai Naling (64kg), Leonard Numbu (75kg) and Eric Wassab (81kg).
The Men’s Karate Team competition saw Vanuatu win silver. The individual medals winners were Paul Iauko (65kg – silver), Steven Tumu (70kg – silver), Hanna Kausiama (Women’s 60kg - silver) and Yves Lui (Male Open Division – bronze).
With Karate returning home with four silver medals and one bronze, the fighting forces of Vanuatu had done the nation proud.
Table Tennis had gradually established a solid presence in Vanuatu’s sporting landscape and success was starting to flow in the regional competitions.
The team added to its success from Guam with a gold medal in the Women’s Team Competition (sisters Emmeline Clochard (Lulu) & Anolyn Lulu and Wai-Yein Wong). Silver medals also went to Wai-Yein Wong (Women’s Individual) and to Kerry Mok and Wai-Yein Wong in the Women’s Doubles with the Men’s team winning the bronze medal.
The Football team made the play-off match for the bronze medal, defeating Tahiti 1-0.
Athletics had to settle for one silver medal for Moses Kamut in the 400m (48.39s) and a bronze to the many-named Jimmy Sandy Sam in the 10000m (33:04.1s for a new Vanuatu NR which still stands today).
For the second time in its history, the Games headed north of the equator, to Palau (2005), where the Mini Games were staged for the first time in Micronesia.
It was a very small team – only five competitors - but all returned with a medal. The final medal tally for Vanuatu was two gold, three silver and one bronze.
In Athletics, Moses Kamut was a one-man-band, being the only track and field athletes competing for Vanuatu. He put in an impressive performance in the 100m securing the gold medal in a time of 10.64s - a new National Record - beating the fastest man in the Pacific at that time, Jone Delai (FIJ). He also came second in the 200m event (21.67s).
Kamut still holds that Vanuatu National Record for the 100m sprint event.
Table Tennis continued its great showing for the nation with one gold, two silver and a bronze medal.
The gold came in the Women’s Team event while in the Doubles, Priscilla Tommy and Anolyn Lulu won silver, with sister Emmeline Clochard (Lulu) and Kerry Mok won bronze. Priscilla Tommy won the silver in the singles competition.
The next Pacific Games, as it was soon to be called, was much closer to home and a larger team was sent.
Priscilla Tommy in action (Photo: ITTF)