In the heart of Korman complex, flags were waving in the crowd as para-athletes took their spot on the starting line, ready to take off at the sound of the starting gun.
Sylvain Bova, a vision impaired runner from New Caledonia, was positioned in lane one and took his mark with his guide, Germain Haewegene, by his side as they prepared to sprint for gold in the Men’s 100m ambulant final.
Twelve seconds and thirteen milliseconds later, they crossed the finish line in perfect sync with each matching the other’s stride.
The pair have been running together since 2014 and made their international debut in the PNG Pacific Games in 2015 where they won gold.
Bova expressed that their mission for this Mini Games was solely to win gold for their country and to fly the national flag high.
“I have been running with Germain since 2015 and I am very happy that we won because, I came here to win gold,” said Bova.
He added that he has been winning competitions since he started running with Haewegene and he has so much confidence in him that competing today was not difficult because he had no doubts about his partner.
Haewegene matched Bova’s every stride in the race as they headed to the line for gold, a skill which he said was difficult to master when he first started running with Sylvain.
“Running with him (Sylvain) now feels very normal for me as it would be for him as well because we have so much confidence in each other and the win today was all for Sylvain and our families back home,” humbly expressed.
Haewegene also had an important message to share stressing that having a disability should not be a reason to stop anyone from enjoying sport.
“Having a disability is not an excuse to prevent anyone from participating in sport because we are all the same and today Sylvain won the gold medal,” said Haewegene.
Bova and Haewegene hinted that they are now looking forward to competing in the French championships and other championships in Europe in 2018, but they are also looking forward to defending their title in the 2019 Pacific Games which will be in Samoa.
Peter Dick and Marc Houssimoli from Vanuatu snatched silver and bronze respectively in this event, marking the start of a new journey for the two ni-Vans.