PORT MORESBY, July 9 – By the end of the evening on Wednesday, the gymnasium at Caritas Technical Secondary School was set up for an all-Tahiti celebration.
In the day’s final Pacific Games table tennis event, the Tahitian pair of Melveen Richmond and Ocean Belrose stood atop a podium filled with their countrymen for the medal ceremony in the mixed doubles event.
“We’re very happy that almost everyone is on the podium, it’s very good for Tahiti,” Richmond said.
Richmond and Belrose defeated teammates Alize Belrose (TAH) and Aurelie Cyrine Sam (TAH) 11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7 in the gold medal match.
Rachel Hsiao (TAH) and Tinihau Klouman (TAH) earned bronze with an 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 defeat of the New Caledonian pair of Laurent Sens and Ornella Bouteille.
There were four teams from Tahiti entered in the event out of a total of 29 teams, with all four Tahitian teams on course to reach the semifinals until Sens and Bouteille defeated the Tahitian pair of Gregoire Dossier and Tearo Le Caill 11-7, 11-1, 11-6 in the quarterfinals.
Ocean Belrose noted that he did not necessarily expect the podium sweep.
“But that was our aim, to have everyone on the podium,” he said.
“It’s awesome. It’s the first time [for this] in table tennis for Tahiti, so it’s amazing.”
The quarterfinals featured three matches that pitted Tahiti against New Caledonia.
Ocean Belrose and Richmond defeated Jérémy Dey (NCL) and Vanina Santino (NCL) 11-8, 11-9, 11-5, while Alize Belrose and Sam defeated Stephane Gilabert (NCL) and Cathy Gauthier (NCL) 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 15-13.
The other quarterfinal saw Hsiao and Klouman earn a 4-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-9 victory against Yoshua Jordan Shing and Anolyn Lulu of Vanuatu.
Although gold was already guaranteed to go to Tahiti prior to the final being played, Richmond mentioned that there was still a strong sense of competition against her teammates to take the top spot.
“Even though we are from the same country, we all played our best and tried to win the gold,” Richmond said.
Table tennis action continues Thursday with the men’s and women’s finals in the doubles competition.
The men’s and women’s singles tournaments will begin Thursday and will wrap up on Friday.