By ISAAC LIRI
FIVE former athletes were honoured with their induction into the Papua New Guinea Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby.
The inductees were former track athlete Salitia Pipit, boxer Tumat Sogolik, swimmer Nigel Cluer and weightlifting brothers Jackson and David Seeto.
PNG Olympic Committee president Sir John Dawanincura and PNG Sports Foundation chairman Graham Osborne praised the five athletes for their contribution toward sport in the country and for being the second lot of inductees of The National-sponsored event.
Also attending the occasion to honour the five inductees was former statesman Sir John Kaputin, who was one of tow first inductees.
Kaputin said the gathering was significant and it was an honour to share with the five his expereinces as one of the country’s first representatives in athletics in the 1960s and 1970s. “Being here this evening is an honour for an athlete who will always be remebered as one.Irrespective of the measure of success in your particular field of specialisation whether as a sprinter in athletes, a swimmer, a boxer or an athlete in another sport,” Kaputin said.
Representing the Minister for Sport Justin Tkatchenko, who could not attend the occasion, NCD Governor Powes Parkop said recognising the talents of yesteryear made the coming generations appreciate and respect the history.
“Papua New Guinea has a long a colourful history in sports, the athletes are the bright and colourful stars, our sports men and women and now we are honouring the stars that came before us, they are among those that set the benchmark, they are our first sporting super stars, although they did not have the facilities and technical training, they did have the passion and the self believe to achieve their dreams,” Parkop said.
Receiving their PNG Sports Hall of Fame awards, all five inductees were emotional as well as grateful for being recognised as athletes who laid the foundation for sport in PNG.
The golden girl of the South Pacific in the 1970s and then golden mum of the 1980s, Pipit was delighted to be inducted to the HOF and gave credit to her family for always standing beside her.
“From the dedication of my family I made it through with my achievements,” Pipit said.
Boxer Tumat Sogolik of New Ireland was the first Papua New Guinean to win a Commonwealth Games medal in 1978 Edmonton in Canada, after he lost a controversial points decision to Ireland’s Barry McGuigan.
The 61-year-old shed a tear as he received his award and recalled how even Queens Elizabeth II had passed on her support for him after his loss.
“Whatever that happened in 1978 is a highlight memory of my career but after all these years I have accepted it because I went there to give my best for the country,” Sogolik said.
The third Inductee Nigel Cluer is one of Papua New Guinea’s pioneer swimmers who won four gold medals in the 1969 South Pacific Games in Port Moresby and then went on to win the 1969 Sportsman of the year Award for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
The fourth and fifth inductees of the HOF were Seeto brothers Jackson and David.
Jackson was a good all round sportsman who represented the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in basketball at the first South Pacific Games in Suva, Fiji winning the bronze medal.
In the 1966 South Pacific Games in Noumea New Caledonia, both Jackson and David competed in weightlifting’s featherweight class where Jackson won gold and just behind him was David who won silver division.
By ISAAC LIRI