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By Henry Morabang

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 10) – The French territories of New Caledonia and Tahiti continued their domination of regional sports by winning the majority of medals at the XIII South Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, which ended yesterday.

The two territories collected at least 127 gold medals (Tahiti 44 gold) to finish first and second respectively followed by host Samoa (44 gold) and neighbours Fiji (39 gold).

Papua New Guinea, the biggest country in the South Pacific, finished a lowly fifth place, being outplayed and outran in second-week events where we had at least expected gold.

However, PNG SP Games general manager Numa Alu said yesterday that Team PNG had "performed exceptionally well", adding that it was the best prepared team to have left PNG to take part in the South Pacific Games.

"Credit must go to all the athletes. The performance and the results reflect on the good lead-up preparation and the financial backing from the government and the stakeholders towards the Games," he said.

"I must thank all the sponsors for the backing," he said.

Alu said all the sports have contributed well to the Team PNG overall medal tally of 38 gold, 10 silver and 32 bronze medals.

He said sports such as power lifting did not deliver as promised because they came with expectations too high to realise - they only delivered two gold medals.

Alu also noted that athletics performed below their expectation however the team contributed eight gold medal, eight silver and 11 bronze medals to finish fourth behind Fiji, New Caledonia, Tahiti while host Samoa and Cook Island complete the equation.

He said that overall Team PNG achieved the goal set prior to the Games and that was to finish in the top five and better the gold count of the previous Games in Suva, Fiji, in 2003, which was 33 gold medals. We bettered that by five gold medals.

PNG Sports Federation general secretary Sir John Dawanincura is also pleased with Team PNG’s performance.

"We cannot ask for more as the team produced what was on offer during the two-week long SP Games," he said.

However, Apia SP Games statistics showed that on the second last day (last Friday) of competitions, New Caledonia had amassed a whopping 86 gold, 68 silver and 64 bronze for a total of 218 medals compared with Papua New Guinea’s 36 gold, 22 silver and 31 bronze for a total of 89 medals.

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