Monday marked a historic moment at the Sol2023 Pacific Games as women’s pole vault made a dazzling return after an eight-year hiatus at Honiara’s National Stadium, taking the Games to new heights.
The star of the show was Solomon Islands’ own Julian Sosimo, who not only captivated the crowd but also clinched the silver medal with a final jump height of 2.10 meters.
Despite having tried pole vault only three times before competing on this grand stage, the 26-year-old Sosimo displayed remarkable skill and determination. As the least experienced among the four competitors, she had the home crowd rallying behind her as she successfully cleared heights of 1.80m, 1.90m, 2.00m, and her final height of 2.10m, surprising everyone by reaching the podium.
In an interview with the Pacific Games News Service, Sosimo expressed her joy at winning the silver, revealing that she had only learned pole vault in the two Saturdays leading up to the Solomon Islands national championships, a test event for the Pacific Games held in October.
She eagerly embraced the challenge, stating, “I liked the challenge to do pole vault, and I have the strong heart and mind to do pole vault. It was both mine and my coach’s idea to do pole vault. I feel happy to jump in the pole vault, and I felt confident. I will continue to jump in pole vault for Solomon Islands.”
The gold in women’s pole vault was secured by New Caledonia’s Pascale Gacon, the gold medallist from the last time the event was contested at the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games.
Gacon retained her title with a final jump height of 3.00 meters, although it was 70 centimeters under her winning height in 2015. Reflecting on her victory, the 40-year-old athlete stated, “It wasn’t quite the same as in 2015, I’m not the same age, but I’m happy to have brought home the gold medal. That was the goal.”
Despite some frustration due to a minor Achilles tendon pain, Gacon acknowledged the challenges she faced since 2015, including transitioning into motherhood. She emphasized her desire to see more women and young girls participating in pole vault, encouraging them to take up the sport ahead of the next Pacific Games in Tahiti 2027.
Expressing her concern about the limited number of competitors in the pole vault event at Sol2023, Gacon, a veteran and advocate for women in the sport, admitted the difficulties associated with the discipline but called on aspiring athletes, saying, “I’d really like to go to Tahiti (Pacific Games 2027). I’m looking for young women, young girls to take over, but until I find one, I will be there. I’m making an appeal, calling on all gymnasts, athletes, and young girls who want to take up pole vault. I’m here to train you.”
Tahiti’s Tess Ayat, who seemed poised to secure a medal, unfortunately couldn’t clear a bar, paving the way for Ateliana Magoni of New Caledonia to claim the bronze medal with a jump height of 1.80m.
The women’s pole vault event not only brought exhilarating competition but also showcased the resilience, determination, and passion of athletes like Julian Sosimo and Pascale Gacon, leaving an indelible mark on the Sol2023 Pacific Games.
Source: Pacific Games News Service