Athletics: Pacific Games provide rare family reunion for Kiwi track athlete Jordan Evans-Tobata

The 2023 Pacific Games are well under way  in the Soloman Islands, with 45 Kiwi athletes competing across five disciplines, but also providing the opportunity of a lifetime for Dunedin teenager Jordan Evans-Tobata. 

Packed and prepped for the biggest event of her career so far, Evans-Tobata, 19, hopes to find more than just her best form when she arrives at the venue.

"Since it's in the Solomon Islands, which is where my dad lives, this is the first time I'll get to see him in nine years," she said. 

Jordan Eveans-Tobata in training.
Jordan Eveans-Tobata in training. Photo credit: Newshub

School, training and COVID-19 have prevented the sprinter from seeing father Walebarasialia since he left to work in the Solomons in 2014. She even tried for dual citizenship, which didn't work out.

"Then I saw New Zealand was taking a team over and thought I might as well apply, and it all worked out," said Evans-Tobata, whose personal best of 57.86s secured a spot on the travelling team.

"He always gets to hear about how we do. We can only message because of the coverage and calls always cut out, so we just stuck to messaging.

"From what he's said, he's pretty excited."

That's an emotion shared by his daughter, who will make her international debut and anticipates a new PB. 

"Preparations been pretty good," she said. "I've had a few races and conditions haven't been great." 

Since the opening ceremony on Sunday, conditions at Honirara have already reached 30 degrees, quite different to Dunedin.

"I've been in the sauna twice a week, between 70-80 degrees, so its pretty hot," said Evans-Tobata.

With prep done and and newly found motivation behind her, all that’s left to do is find her father, before trying to find a new personal best on the track.