By HENRY MORABANG
THE PNG Weightlifting Federation has welcomed the return of its prodigal son Steven Kari.
Weightlifting federation chief and PNG Olympic Committee president Sir John Dawanincura said this when The National enquired about the Hanubada chap’s sudden appearance at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Sir John said the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal winner was never banned from PNG weightlifting but he decided to stay home and do home training after the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
Leading to the 2015 Pacific Games at home, the 24-year-old was the centre of controversy for refusing to train with the rest of the PNG contingent.
He defied all the critics to win gold medal in the 94kg division in the games.
“We left it to Steven to review his own situation in due course,” Sir John said.
The weightlifting chief said Kari was happy to return to Oceania Weightlifting Institute in New Caledonia.
“I consulted with Paul Coffa (Oceania Weightlifting Institute director) and we decided to accept him back, in the best interest of the lifter and Papua New Guinea,” he said.
PNG Weightlifting Federation strongly believed in Kari’s potential and had every confidence in him winning gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April.
However, Kari knows that there is a lot of hard work to do, in not only getting back to his previous best but to better that performance to catch up to his rivals who had also improved over the 20 months to March 2017, when he arrived in Noumea.
Sir John said Kari was training well and was back on track and his silver medal winning performance in the French National Championships was a great indication of this after only four months of intensive training.
“This is a fantastic effort, and he is now focused on preparing for the Commonwealth and Oceania Championships coming up at the Gold Coast from September 3-9,” Sir John said.
“This event will be the launching pad for Steven Kari regardless of the results, however, as usual, we are not competing to win silver, our vision is gold.”
Kari came first came to prominence when he won his first gold medal in 2011 Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia in the 85kg men’s division.
By HENRY MORABANG