By PATRICIA KEAMO
ATHLETICS added another seven gold to the Team Papua New Guinea medal tally yesterday, taking the sport’s total to 12 at the half way stage of the four-day track and field competition in the Pacific Mini Games.
Frontrunners Team PNG now have 19 gold, 11 silver and seven bronze while second-placed Australia have 12 gold, two silver and one bronze in Saipan.
Israel Takap (3,000m steeplechase), Annie Topal (long jump), Karo Iga (octathlon), Adolf Kauba (800m), Donna Longbut (ambulant 100m), Leonie Beu (400m) and Scholastica Herman (1,500m) won gold. The athletics team medalled in nine out of 11 events, missing out in two competitions after Ongan Awa finished fourth in the women’s 10,000m and Leroy Kamau’s disqualification in the men’s 100m for a false start.
The men’s 3,000 steeplechase was a Team PNG sweep with Aquila Turalom and Siune Abel bagging silver and bronze respectively.
Olympian Rellie Kaputin (5.94m) registered a silver behind Topal in the women’s long jump
Ephraim Lerkin finished behind Kauba to claim silver while Isila Apkup finished third in the women’s 400m after Beu clocked 55.91 seconds. In the men’s javelin 800g, Lakona Gerega claimed silver with a distance of 66.39m at the Oleai Sports Complex.
Kamau was primed for gold in the men’s 100m finals after his close battle with Fiji’s Banuve Tabakaucoro in the semifinals, but a false start saw him being disqualified.
Today will see more strong gold medal chances for PNG with Topal and Kaputin in the triple jump, Topal in the 400m hurdles and Mary Tenge in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase.
Daniel Baul and Ephraim Lerkin will compete in the men’s 400m hurdles while the men’s 400m see Emmanuel Wanga Shadrick Tansi and Jonathan Dende carry Team PNG’s hopes.
The men’s 5,000m promises to be a very exciting race with Fiji’s Yeshnil Karan starting as favourite in a field of 19 runners. Team PNG’s Dilu Goiye, Siune Kagl and Wilford Baia are determined to give it their best shot.
Meanwhile, tennis siblings Violet and Patricia Apisah will be competing in the women’s doubles semifinals today after defeating Guam 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals yesterday.
Matthew Stubbings will compete in the singles semifinals after edging Northern Marianas 7-5, 6-2 yesterday.
Abigail Tere-Apisah will also compete in the singles semifinals today.
By PATRICIA KEAMO