NZ athlete set for emotional reunion with father at Pacific Games
Dunedin-based Jordan Evans-Tobata is set for an emotional reunion with her father when she represents New Zealand at the Pacific Games later this month in the Solomon Islands.
Evans-Tobata has four busy events on her schedule – 400m, 800m, 4x100m and 4x400m relay – during the five-day track program that runs from November 27 to December 1 in Honiara.
The event will see the 19-year-old Otago university student make her international debut and also see her Solomon Islands-based father, Walebarasialia (Wale), for the first time in nine years.
“As soon as I found out the event was in the Solomon Islands I expressed interest in competing and was delighted to be selected,” said Evans-Tobaba.
“Me and my sisters had planned to fly over to the Solomon Islands the following year but Covid put an end to that, so it’s really exciting that my dad and my other family, who I haven’t seen in a long time, will get to day, the name. chance to see me run.”
She took up athletics with Caversham Harrier and AC through her older sister, Sydney.
Evans-Tobata soon found a talent for the sport to win Colgate Games medals in the 400m and 800m.
Mainly specializing as a 400m sprinter, she ran a personal best of 57.86 seconds last year to win bronze at the New Zealand secondary track champs in Inglewood.
“I wasn’t sure where I was as I had only done a few local races before that event and my previous season had been interrupted with a minor stress fracture in my leg,” she said.
“I didn’t know how I would do against those girls with the fast time so it was a big confidence booster to get third.”
At the national track and field championships in Wellington in March, she finished fifth in the women’s U20 400m final and in recent months has been fine-tuning her preparations for the Pacific Games.
Expecting to endure temperatures of over 30C in Honiara – quite a contrast to what she has experienced in Edinburgh in recent months – she took Paralympic goose champion Holly Robinson’s advice to spend time in the sauna to help prepare.
“Once or twice a week I spent 50 minutes after each training session in the sauna,” says Jordan.
“I didn’t like them at first but over time I learned to love them.”
“For the 400m I’m close to PB shape. I’ve run locally here in Dunedin and I’ve run well in some bad conditions, so I’m hoping to make the final and see what happens.
“I haven’t competed in the 800m for a little while. I’ve done some time trials and I’ve backed up a bit in the longer distances. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but I want to go . 2:15 or faster.”
About the New Zealand Team for the 2023 Solomon Islands Pacific Games
The Pacific Games will take place between November 19 and December 2 in the Solomon Islands.
The Games are a quadrennial multi-sport event celebrating Pacific sport and culture.
5,000 participants (including athletes, technical officials and support staff) from 24 countries will compete across 24 sports at the Games.
Team New Zealand will consist of 45 athletes competing in archery, athletics, boxing, Para table tennis and weightlifting.
The archery and boxing competitions in Honiara are qualifying opportunities for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, while the weightlifting and athletics competitions are part of wider qualification opportunities for the Games.
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