Samoa win gold and bronze in 50 backstroke

Samoa’s Lushavel Stickland won gold in the women’s 50m backstroke in 29.96 seconds.

Rova Cheyenne of Fiji won silver, and Samoa had more joy with Jelani Wetzell snatching bronze to see the hosts claim two of the three spots on the podium.

“I couldn’t even see my place, I just heard the cheering,” Stickland laughed. “I’m really proud to do it for the team, and we also had Jelani on the podium as well, so to share it with her was awesome.”

The home crowd fired up again when last night’s gold medalist, Samoa’s Lauren Sale, took her spot on the starting blocks for the women’s 100m butterfly. But it was New Caledonia who took home the gold, courtesy of May Toven, in a tightly contested race that Toven finished in 1:03.32. Sale was never far behind, but ultimately took silver with a time of 1:04.27 and Julie Decaix (NCL) took bronze.

Thibaut Mary (NCL) and Nicolas Vermorel (TAH) swam neck and neck throughout the men’s 100m butterfly but it was Mary who inched out the gold with a time of 54.16 seconds, only 0.07 seconds faster than Vermorel, who had posted the fastest qualifying race. Thomas Oswald (NCL) finished third and brought New Caledonia its eighth medal of the evening on day 2.

The women’s leg of the 800m freestyle relay was an inspiring show of human spirit at Samoa 2019. The crowd roared as Samoa’s team took silver behind New Caledonia, and the entire Aquatics Centre continued to cheer and clap as Fiji took bronze and the Papua New Guinea swimmers hit the touchpad.

The women embraced after the race and New Caledonia’s anchor, Emma Terebo, left the pool to the sound of her teammates and fans singing “happy birthday”.

New Caledonia continued its rule over the pool in the final race of the night. The men’s relay team cruised to a gold medal finish and their tenth medal of the night. Tahiti was not far behind and won silver medal to bring their total medal count to four. Fiji won bronze and their fifth medal of the evening.

“Our goal was four golds and we got six, plus the bronze and silver medals, which weren’t expected,” said New Caledonia team manager Cyril Huet. “We are so proud—it was perfect and truly exceptional."

Huet said they have eight chances at gold, and their goal is three or four on Thursday.