Athletics squad primed


PACIFIC sprint champion Toea Wisil, flag bearer Rellie Kaputin and 100m specialist Leroy Kamau will lead Athletics Papua New Guinea’s 18-man team to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games later this month.
The athletics competition will run from Aug 2-7.
The team consist 10 men and eight women, seventeen of whom who were nominated last year to the PNG Olympic Committee (PNGOC) and endorsed by its justification committee.
But Athletics PNG (APNG) deferred the announcement to ensure that only those athletes who were fit and ready to compete in the Games would be included in the final team.
APNG president Tony Green said the United States-based athletes were advised earlier this year for obvious reasons as this had implications on their movements after the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games.
It was agreed that the team be announced after the Pacific Mini Games and APNG is now doing that after clarifying the situation with some athletes who were carrying injuries, and after consultations with PNGOC.
Green said that some of the US-based athletes had a long season and “we have to be realistic in our expectations of their performance”.
“But the experience of attending a higher-level competition will stand them in good stead for important competitions next year and beyond, especially for the relays,” he said.
The women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m will be the main focus for the sprinters, but they will each take one individual event, possibly two in some cases.
The male athletes are Kamau, Emmanuel Wanga, Shadrick Tansi, Jonathan Dende, Daniel Baul, Ephraim Lerkin, Peniel Richard, Lakona Gerega, De’Bono Paraka and Karo Iga.
In-form throwers Paraka and Gerega will look to improve on the national records which they had set in the recent Oceania Championships and Mini Games.
Paraka who was not initially considered for the Games because of a low-key last couple of years, has proven his doubters wrong by getting himself into the best shape of his life and throwing well consistently.
He is now on the Gold Coast, Australia, undertaking his final preparations with coach Brett Green.
Hurdlers (400m) Baul and Lerkin will be aiming to improve the times which they had clocked in the Mini Games and secure a place in the final four for the relay.
Iga, whose 2019 Gold medal-winning performance of 6,643 points is his personal best, will aim to accumulate close to 7,000 points which would then put him in striking distance of Albert Momberger’s national record of 7,178 which he had set during his lead-up to the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
The women’s team consist flag bearer Rellie Kaputin (long jump), Annie Topal (triple jump), Toea Wisil (100m), Leonie Beu (200m), Isila Apkup (200m), Adrine Monagi (100m hurdles), Edna Boafob (heptathlon) and Sharon Toako (javelin).
Monagi is another in-form athlete who will be aiming for a solid performance in the Games.
Her hopes of improving her personal best in the 100m hurdles in Saipan recently were thwarted by strong headwinds.
Green will be assisted by Allan Akia, with Subul Babo and Akia named as the sprint coaches. The team manager will be Nola Peni.
The men’s sprint team as well as Isila Apkup and Leonie Beu are now at the National Sports Institute in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, after a short break at home and will leave for the Games on July 21 with the rest of Team PNG.
Only Kamau and Lerkin opted to stay in Port Moresby for their final preparations.
Ten athletes who require specialist coaching in the jumps, hurdles and throws are undertaking their final preparations on the Gold coast.
Green thanked director Janet Gimots for her institute’s role in supporting athlete training programmes and the high performance unit for assisting athletes.
He said sponsors PNG Air, Prima Smallgoods and Kumul Consolidated Holdings, through the PNG Olympic Committee, had also played an important part in the Games preparations leading towards the Games.