5 Dec 2013

Sport: Tonga wins track gold at Special Olympics

6:05 pm on 5 December 2013

Tonga has won a gold medal on the track at the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games in Australia.

21 year old Tomasi Maasi took out the 400m title at the Hunter Sports Centre in Newcastle.

Team Tonga's Head of Delegation Vanessa Heleta told Vinnie Wylie their success came as something of a surprise but has now fuelled a desire for more.

VANESSA HELETA: We came with the expectation of just participation and getting these guys out of the country and to a new environment to engage and get to know other athletes from other cultures. We didn't expect any medals at all, let alone a gold one.

VINNIE WYLIE: And how long has he been running?

VH: He was a bit hesitant to run yesterday because he recently ran in the 200m and 100m, which he came first, and the final is tomorrow and on Friday for the 100m and 200m which he came first. But when he came for the 400m he was a bit nervous.

VW: And now he's got himself a gold medal in what he thinks perhaps isn't his strongest event. So he's got a chance to add to that tally over the next couple of days. That's pretty exciting.

VH: That's right. And also tomasi and another guy named Paolo, he's on the final for the 100m and 200m, as well, so two of our athletes are in the final for the 100m and 200m.

VW: And what has that gold medal done for Tomasi's confidence as he leads into... having one the 400m and leading into these final two races?

VH: Everyone was feeling his medal last night and he slept with his gold medal around his neck last night. And this morning I told him he has to take it off at some point, like going to have a shower. (Laughs)

VW: Has Tonga won any other medals at this point yet?

VH: No, no. But we're looking forward to tomorrow and Friday. Tomasi and Paolo, they both said that they're going to get more medals tomorrow. So we're looking forward to tomorrow and Friday, Vinnie.