Pacific Games Athlete to be Reunited with Father
New Zealand athlete Jordan Evans-Tobata is set for an emotional reunion with her father when she competes for her country at the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.
The Dunedin-based athlete has a busy schedule of four events on her schedule – 400m, 800m, 4x100m and 4x400m relay – during the five-day track programme which runs from 27 November- 1 December in Honiara.
Besides the pride the 19-year-old University of Otago student will feel when making her international debut, Jordan will also have the joy of seeing 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 an interest in competing and I was delighted when I was selected,’ said Jordan.
"My sisters and I intended on flying over to the Solomon Islands the other year but Covid put a stop to that, so it is very exciting that my dad and other family, who I haven’t seen for a long time, will get the chance to see me run.”
Inspired to start the sport of athletics at Caversham Harrier and AC through her elder sister, Sydney, Jordan quickly discovered a gift for the sport, going on to win Colgate Games medals in the 400m and 800m.
Specialising largely as a 400m sprinter she climaxed a challenging 2022 on a high as she set a PB of 57.86 to win bronze at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Track, Field and Road Championships in Inglewood.
“I was unsure of where I stood because before that event, I’d only done a few local races and my prior season was disrupted with a minor stress fracture of the foot,” she said. “I didn’t know how I’d perform against those girls with the fast times so to finish third was a big confidence boost.”
At the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington in March, Jordan placed fifth in the women’s U20 400m final and in more recent months she has fine-tuned her preparations for the Pacific Games.
Expected to face temperatures in excess of 30C in Honiara – quite different to what she has experienced in Dunedin over recent months – she took the wise advice of Paralympic javelin F46 champion Holly Robinson to spend time in the sauna to aid her preparation.
“Once or twice a week I’ve spent 50 minutes after each training session in the sauna,” says Jordan. “I didn’t like them at first but over time I’ve learned to love it.”
Recently having sat her Level C Officials course in the new year she plans to officiate at the South Island Colgate Games in Dunedin (12-14 January). As a former medallist she has a close affinity with the annual kids’ athletics event and she is looking forward to officiating at the Caledonian Ground – where her youngest sister, Elyanah, will be competing.
“It is not too hard to become a C Grade official and it is great to be able to give back to the sport and take the load off the officials that officiate you all the time.”
Yet the immediate focus for Jordan is the Pacific Games, so what would she like to achieve in the biggest competition of her career to date?
“For the 400m I’m in close to PB shape. I’ve performed locally here in Dunedin and ran well in some bad conditions, so I’m hoping to make the final and see what happens.
“I haven’t competed in 800m for a wee while. I have done a few time trials and backed off a bit running the longer distances. I don’t want to put myself under too much pressure, but I’d like to go 2:15 or faster.”
About the New Zealand Team for the Solomon Islands 2023 Pacific Games
The 2023 Pacific Games will take place between 19 November and 2 December in the Solomon Islands. The Games are a quadrennial multi-sport event which celebrates sport and Pacific culture.
5,000 participants (including athletes, technical officials and support staff) from 24 Countries will compete across 24 sports at the Games. The New Zealand Team will be made up of 45 athletes competing across 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.
Cover photo via Otago Girls High School facebook page.
By NZ Olympic Committee