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Indigenous Australians Shine in Closing the 2023 Pacific Games



As the Pacific Games concluded on Sunday evening, Marissa Williamson Pohlman stood tall among the Australian competitors, encapsulating the spirit of triumph. Their participation marked a historic moment as every male and female representative from Australia secured at least one medal during the Games, setting an unprecedented record.


Australian athletes brought home a remarkable tally of 50 gold, 24 silver, and 10 bronze medals from a pool of 75 competitors, excelling in eight out of the 24 featured sports. Notably, Indigenous Australians demonstrated remarkable prowess, claiming victory in all four competitions they engaged in, a testament to their skill and dedication.


Calab Law, a 19-year-old sprinter, triumphed in both the 100 and 200 meters, bolstering his aspirations for a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games. In boxing, athletes like Callum Peters secured gold medals, earning 12 out of the 13 Olympic quotas available in the ring, solidifying Australia's representation for the forthcoming international event in France.


However, Marissa Williamson Pohlman's journey transcended mere victories. The Ngarrindjeri woman, raised on Wadawurrung Country, made history by becoming the first Indigenous Australian woman to qualify for Olympic boxing. Overcoming a persistent knee injury, she fought her way to victory in the 66 kg final against Cara Wharerau from New Zealand, securing her spot in the prestigious event.


Reflecting on her journey, Pohlman expressed immense gratitude, acknowledging her roots and the transformative power of sport. "I hope there's kids who might see this and know there can be a future and it can get better," she shared, highlighting her aspiration to inspire others through her remarkable journey.


The team's Chef de Mission, Kenny Wallace, praised the Australian representatives not only for their remarkable athletic achievements but also for their embodiment of sportsmanship and camaraderie. The team's actions extended beyond the competition; they donated supplies and equipment to local schools and care centres across the Solomon Islands, showcasing their commitment to giving back to the community.


The 2023 Pacific Games culminated in a vibrant and musical closing ceremony in Honiara, marking the end of 14 days of spirited athletic competition that united more than 5000 competitors and officials from 24 nations across Oceania.


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