Australia’s golden campaign came to a fitting finish in Honiara, Solomon Islands on the fifth and final day of athletics action at the 2023 Pacific Games, led by victories to NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) athlete Connor Murphy, Mitchell Lightfoot and Samantha Dale.

Triple jumper Connor Murphy (Andrew Murphy) saved one of the best performances of the championships for last when leaping to a windy 16.85m (+2.5) to claim an emphatic gold, delighting the crowd at the National Stadium in Honiara with a new meet record.

Continuing Australia’s display of dominance, World Under 20 Championships representative and national champion Mitchell Lightfoot (Alex Stewart) set a new meet record when cruising to victory in 14.19 (-1.7).

“I’m really happy to get that gold today. I was hoping for a quicker time but the goal was to win gold, and there’s nothing better than crossing the line first in an environment like this one, when you’re wearing the Australian colours and at a major championships,” Lightfoot said.

“It’s back to the drawing board now. Back to base work before the season kicks off. I want to get stronger so I can make that team heading to Paris.”

Also impressing on the runway was Australia’s long jump duo of Samantha Dale (Andrew Murphy) and Katie Gunn (Matthew Horsnell), landing the top two positions on the podium with a pair of six metre leaps.

Setting a new Pacific Games record, Dale’s 6.42m (+0.6) effort on her opening attempt set the tone for the competition and proved a golden distance, while Gunn’s 6.03m (+1.4) leap clinched the silver.

“It’s nice getting a record and having your name secured the sheet as the next time comes around. It is exciting to have that at the Pacific Games,” Dale said.

“It’s always good having another Aussie out there, I think us [Katie] and the 100m were the only event with another Aussie in it. I love competing with another Aussie, it makes you feel like at least you can talk to someone and cheer each other on.”

400m hurdler Isabella Guthrie (Angus McEntyre) broke an 18 month drought in the personal best stakes when tearing to a career best run of 57.77-seconds, good enough for silver behind France’s Loan Ville (57.26).

Attacking the front half of the race, Guthrie laid it all on the line in her bid for the Pacific Games title, rewarded with a breakthrough personal best to open her 2024 campaign.

Article and image courtesy of Athletics Australia

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