Petanque NZ selected two teams of 6 players to represent NZ at the Oceania Championship in Vanuatu last week, plus a coach, a manager and four friends and family as support crew. This team of 18 faced some challenging times over the week and produced some amazing petanque under difficult circumstances. Some of the challenges faced included; players having to reorganise there flights after AirNZ stopped flying to Vanuatu with a considerable increase in cost to players; the uniform order was incorrect and had to be redone the week they left; uniforms were embroidered with Oceanic (not Oceania); 1 member was fogged in and missed his flight to Vanuatu, taking an extra 24 hours to get there; 13 of the team's luggage did not arrive for more than 2 days after they did; the organisation deciding to start the tournament a day earlier than planned; having to play with borrowed uniforms and borrowed boules; the death of one of the officials; tropical storms and flodding; overflowing portaloos; 7.00am starts and 2.00am finishes; 4 cases of red eye, 1 of severe diarrhoea; 2 of gastro symptoms and 1 cold; steaming hot temperatures and very high humidity...to name a few. Despite all that, there were lots of laughs and amazing people and our players played with passion and commitment and all should be proud of their involvement in this competition.
Results - Men
Shooting - No men in the top 8.
Pointing - Georgio Vakauta qualified 1st; Christian Fouquet 6th; and Tom Paulo played off for 7th & 8th positions. Tom was knocked out during the play off; Christian was knocked out in the quarter finals and Georgio went on to win gold. A fabulous moment on the podium with the whole crew singing the national anthem.
Singles - Christian Fouquet made it through the qualification barriage to the elimination round, but was eliminated by a Tahitian in the next round.
Doubles - No doubles made it into the elimination rounds.
Triples - No mens teams made it through to the elimination rounds. As the tournament was running a whole day later than expected, Bruno Falco had returned home and Neville Frost who was travelling with the team stepped in to fill his place.
Results - Women
Shooting - Sharon Cannon got into the top 8, but got eliminated in the quarter final.
Pointing - Jean Parley made it to the semi finals but ended up 4th overall by just 1 point.
Singles - Claire Bradburn, Ruby Vakauta and Sharon Cannon all made it through the qualifiying barrage. Claire and Ruby were eliminated in the next round, but Sharon made it to the quarter final before being eliminated.
Doubles - Sharon Cannon and Kathleen Wallace were the only pair to make it through the barriage round, but lost the first round of elimination against New Caledonia.
Triples - The triple of Sharon, Kathleen and Ruby, came very close to making it into the top 8, but got pipped at the post. Jean Parley, Margaret Maher and Claire Bradburn beat Tahiti in the first qualifying round, then beat New Caledonia in the semi final and Wallis & Futuna in the final. Our second Gold of the Championship! The medal ceremony was not until 1.00am, but those who were still there made sure they knew what a special moment that was.
To cap it all off the team were met at the airport on Monday night with a rousing reception from some of the Auckland players. A wonderful moment for the players.