Astonishing end to mixed team event as Fiji win gold in badminton
Fiji took no prisoners in their match against Kiribati this morning. Fresh from a top result against the second seeds, New Caledonia, the team fielded their strongest players, with the greatest challenge coming in the women’s doubles.
Kiribatians, Tinabora Tekeiaki and Teitiria Utimawa, were en route to 100% success rate in the women’s doubles within the mixed team event, before the more-experienced sisters, Karyn and Andra Whiteside, won the close contest 21-13 15-21 21-16.
Meanwhile, New Caledonia fielded a strong team against Samoa. Lizzie Caffarelli (Samoa) looked ready to put a point on the board as she almost took the game to three, however, her rival came through 21-12 21-19. New Caledonia remained consistent throughout the game as they prepare for their biggest match so far later in the day (against Tahiti).
Finally, the score between Northern Marianas and Tonga did not reflect the admirable fight displayed by both teams. Most of the matches remained in close contention with the deciding Men’s Singles and Women’s Doubles going to three, yet Tonga managed to pull off a 4-1 victory.
Tonga finish the tournament on a high after cementing their fourth-place finish with a 3-2 victory against Kiribati. The women’s doubles pair continued their impressive win after a comfortable 21-10 21-12 victory, but it was already too late as Tonga took the win after three successive wins in the singles and Men’s Doubles.
Meanwhile, Fiji were keeping a watchful eye on the parallel court as the results between New Caledonia and Tahiti were crucial to Fiji’s medal position. Fiji were under immense pressure in the opening Mixed Doubles match as Samoa’s Tupu Fua and Lizzie Caffarelli took the game to three, but the third seeded Fijian’s prevailed 21-16 15-21 21-13.
Fiji remained calm and collected throughout the remainder of the game as they smashed through to another crucial 5-0 victory.
It was all or nothing for New Caledonia and Tahiti this evening in one of the biggest matches at the mixed team event so far. A win for Tahiti would secure the gold medal while New Caledonia would bring Fiji into the equation in a three-way tie and a countback on games won/lost would commence.
New Caledonia were fast off the blocks to unsettle the first seeds from Tahiti. Johanna Kou and Ronan Ho-Yagues got the first point on the board with an impressive victory in the Mixed Doubles.
Tahiti’s golden boy and Oceania’s 2019 men’s singles runner-up, Rémi Rossi, looked flustered in the opening game of his men’s Singles. New Caledonia’s Morgan Paitio looked in control throughout the first game, controlling the game until 17-15. However, a net roll by Rossi changed the momentum and he went on to take the game in two.
New Caledonia responded in the Women’s Singles as Dgenyva Matauli took the match in two games, before Tahiti retaliated with interest in the Men’s Doubles, leaving it all up to a deciding Women’s Doubles.
Johanna Kou and Dgenyva Matauli (New Caledonia) and Coralie Bouttin and Esther Tau (Tahiti) were given the ultimate task in the deciding Women’s Doubles. Met by an electric crowd, fellow Tahitian’s and New Caledonian’s from multiple other sports showed up to cheer on the teams.
Ultimately, it was the New Caledonian’s who held the most control and ensured the results came down to a countback. The experienced Johanna Kou (who ‘doubles’ up as both player and President of the Ligue) and Matauli took the game 21-16 21-17 after 22 intense minutes of action.
As the results tallied up, it became clear that Fiji’s emphatic win against the second seeds, New Caledonia, and a nail-biting close defeat at the hands of first seeds, Tahiti, was key to their success. Additionally, Fiji achieved a feat no other team had achieved; a 5-0 victory against all the other teams: Samoa, Kiribati, Northern Marianas and Tonga.
Therefore, the countback on games won/lost presented Fiji with the greatest margin, followed by New Caledonia in second and Tahiti in third.
1 – GOLD – FIJI
2 – SILVER – NEW CALEDONIA
3 – BRONZE – TAHITI
4 – TONGA
5 – NORTHERN MARIANAS
6 – SAMOA
7 – KIRIBATI
This article is published from Badminton Oceania with permission.