10 join best in Japan


TEN Papua New Guinea athletes joined many of the best sprinters in the world last weekend at the IAAF World Relay Championships in Yokohama, Japan.
For many it was a real eye opener and indeed a dream come true to have the opportunity to run alongside athletes who they never imagined they would get the chance to meet.
The athletes are on a short tour of Asia and are in Bangkok, Thailand, where they will participate in the Thailand Open Championships this weekend.
With the Pacific Games only two months away, the athletes are keen to get some high level competition in their individual events.
Athletics PNG were able to put the tour together using a combination of IAAF travel and accommodation subsidies to attend the World Relays, sponsorship from PNG Air for the domestic airfares, and support from the PNGOC to cover accommodation and meals for the week in Bangkok.
A bonus for PNG was the awarding of a total of US$14,000 (K47,297) in prize money for placing in the top eight in three different events at the World Relay Championships.
Firstly Donna Koniel and Daniel Baul combined to run the 2 x 400m relay and placed sixth.
The pair also formed part of the shuttle hurdle relay with veteran Mowen Boino and Adrine Monagi and with only seven teams entered in this new event, PNG only had to complete the race to qualify for prize money (awarded to the top eight teams).
The second day was also rewarding for PNG as the men’s team of Emmanual Wanga, Nazmie Lee Marai, Shadrick Tansi and Daniel Baul set a national record of 1min 27 seconds in the 4x200m relay.
The women’s team of Leonie Beu, Isila Apkup, Edna Boafob and Adrine Monagi were aided by the disqualification of Team USA and a messed up baton change for Kenya in the final of the 4x200m relay and finished in seventh place.
The enduring memory of the night for Beu was to have met her idol, double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and run alongside her in the first leg of the 4x200m relay.
Indeed it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the athletes to rub shoulders with the world’s best and get a taste of top level athletics.
An additional seven athletes accompanied by middle and long distance coach Bernard Manau travelled from Port Moresby yesterday to join those already in Thailand.
The athletes are Simbai Kaspar (1500m/steeplechase), Martin Orovo (800m/1500m) George Yamak (800m/1500m) and sprinters Michael Penny, Thoa Ora, Linus Kuravi and Manoka John.

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