News & Updates

21 November 2023 • High Performance

Pacific Games will provide a very special reunion for Jordan

Jordan Evans-Tobata is set to see her dad for the first time in nine years at the forthcoming Pacific Games.

New Zealand athlete Jordan Evans-Tobata is set for an emotional reunion with her father when she competes for her country next week at the Pacific Games in Honiara 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 athletics programme which runs from 27 November- 1 December.

However, besides the pride the 19-year-old will feel when making her international debut, Jordan will also have the joy of seeing her father, Walebarasialia (Wale), who lives in the Solomon Islands, 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 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. Despite tasting team sports such a netball and touch – Jordan preferred the individual demands of athletics.

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,” said Jordan, who studies sociology and Pacific studies at the University of Otago. “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 – setting a 200m PB of 26.39 only last Saturday.

Expected to face temperatures of more than 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 much-cherished 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.”

Inspired by the thought of competing in front of her father and other family members in Honiara she hopes to deliver some quality performances at the Pacific Games.

“For the 400m I’m in close to PB shape,” she adds. “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 (her current PB is 2:18.26).”

***Watch Jordan and the 19-strong New Zealand athletics team in action on Sky Sport 9 from Monday 27 November.