Athletes set PBs at trials

Sports

THE Athletics PNG selection trials for the Pacific Games held in Kimbe last week were a resounding success, with 38 athletes setting new personal best performances from the 54 national squad members who made the trip.
The men’s squad did particularly well with 29 out of the 36 athletes setting new personal bests.
Athletics PNG extended their thanks to the West New Britain Provincial Administration for their logistical support through Nolene Pidik in the Community Development Division, as well as Ours Enterprises and Arrow Trading for their support.
The highlight of the men’s events was a sensational 800m run by Ephraim Lerkin, who ran 1 min 51.43 seconds to move up to second place on the PNG all-time best performance list behind national record-holder Clement Abai.
Officials were surprised to see Lerkin on the start line as he was expected to run the 400m hurdles.
However Kaminiel Matlaun (1min 55.31) and Martin Orovo (1:56.02) were both delighted that he chose to run the 800m as his searing pace pulled them both along to much faster times than they had run on Tuesday (March 5) in the first 800m race and put them firmly in contention for places in the team.
The men’s 400m also saw many high quality performances with seven athletes running under 50 seconds, including decathlete Karo Iga.
Eldon Toti was outstanding in the men’s jumps with 7.15m in the long and 1.95m in the high jump.
The men’s distance events also saw some great times with the 1500m race being arguably the best ever seen in PNG with four athletes under 4min 10 secs and another two under 4:14.
Simbai Kaspar was dominant in the 5000m and 10000m with his younger compatriot Abel Siune showing tremendous determination to win the 3000m and in fighting all the way to the line in the 1500m and 5000m.
In the women’s events, Leonie Beu ran a big personal best of 55.85secs in the 400m and established herself as a serious medal contender in the 100m as well with another huge PB of 11.84secs.
Young Monica Kalua was outstanding in the 3000m and 5000m, winning both races with Mary Tenge showing that she is getting back to her best form with clockings of 11min 05secs for 3000m and 19min 56 in the 5000m.
With Poro Gahekave also in top form in the USA, Donna Koniel on the comeback trail and young Lyanne Tibu running a personal best 2 min 18secs for 800m, the PNG women are looking very strong in the middle and long distance.
The PNG women also look set to continue their dominance in the horizontal jumps as Rellie Kaputin recorded the best ever long jump on PNG soil with 6.10m, whilst fellow East New Britain athlete Annie Topal placed fourth at the NCAA Division 2 National Indoor Championships in Kansas, Missouri, last weekend with a triple jump of 12.73m.
Athletics PNG President Tony Green said the venue for the selection trials was excellent and it was well worth the effort to stage the trials in Kimbe.
“Of course there were logistical challenges in moving this number of athletes but the results speak for themselves,” Green said.
Athletics PNG will meet with the justification committee of the PNG Olympic Committee on Tuesday (March 20) and expects to be to announce its team for the Games soon afterward.

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