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Boxer bags first Commonwealth Games medal for tiny island nation of Niue

This is the sixth Games that the South Pacific island has competed in.

Duken Tutakitoa-Williams
Duken Tutakitoa-Williams

Boxer Duken Tutakitoa-Williams took just five minutes to seal his place in Commonwealth Games history by winning Niue’s first-ever medal.

With a population of around 1,600, it was perhaps no surprise that Niue – a coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean 375 miles to the east of Tonga – had never made its way onto the medal table at five previous Games.

But heavyweight Tutakitoa-Williams ended that wait by stopping his Cook Islands opponent Michael Schuster in the second round of their quarter-final contest at Birmingham 2022.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Day Seven
Niue’s Duken Tutakitoa-Williams (left) lands a good punch in his heavyweight boxing quarter-final at Birmingham 2022 (Peter Byrne 2022)

“I set out to become the first Niuean to win a medal and I’ve got it done,” said Tutakitoa-Williams, who hails from Auckland in New Zealand, around 1,500 miles away from the so-called ‘Rock of Polynesia’.

“I can’t wait to find out the reaction in Niue. Fate brought me here as I originally wanted to go for New Zealand after winning the nationals there.

“But my coach was asked to coach the Niue team and I was so glad to become a Niuean.

“I feel like a Niuean already, but this is not the end. I came here with three other boxers to make history.

“They fell short, but I didn’t come here for a bronze medal – I want gold.”

Boxing has always seemed Niue’s best route to medalling at the Commonwealth Games.

Two decades ago, the engaging super-heavyweight Star Tauasi made a memorable  impact – if not the podium – at Niue’s first Games in Manchester to win the hearts of fight fans all over the world.

Tutakitoa-Williams, who had a bye into the last eight, will now join Tauasi in Niue folklore, and he does not have to go far to get official recognition from the political class.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Day Seven
Niue’s Duken Tutakitoa-Williams after a quarter-final victory that guarantees him a bronze medal in Birmingham (Peter Byrne/PA)

The nation’s Premier Dalton Tagelagi is in Birmingham… competing in Niue’s bowls team at his third successive Commonwealth Games.

Sadly, Tagelagi – part of a 15-strong Niue team competing across three different sports – will not be taking his own medal back to the South Pacific.

Niue’s 10 bowlers, five men and five women, have lost every match in Birmingham.

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