The National, Monday 03rd December, 2012
By KEITH PUARIA
THE 5th PNG Games in Kokopo came to a close on Friday afternoon after 11 days of sweat, joy and tears among the 8,000 athletes and officials.
Hosts East New Britain farewelled the visitors in traditional song and dance, live performances by their popular artists, feasting and spectacular fireworks display at the Kokopo Sport Ground.
While Team ENB were left disappointed after the declaration of Team NCD as the overall winners, athletes and officials shared the last day together.
The departure of some teams before the ceremony clearly left gaps but did not dampen the closing ceremony. NCD’s declaration as the winner was short-lived after two extra gold medals were awarded to the host team in kickboxing, giving ENB the edge in the final tally.
From NCD’s first gold medal winner Crystal Mari (karate) to the 4 x 400m gold for the ENB relay team, the Kokopo games were the biggest to be held since the inaugural games in Goroka in 2003.
Athletes took part in 21 sports during the 11-day event with the kickboxing finals still underway while the closing ceremony was in progress. The half-marathon ended earlier on Friday.
A total of 665 medals – 214 gold, 227 silver and 226 bronze – were awarded over the of competition.
Among the gold medal highlights were: Vanessa Waro (Morobe) – women’s 100m and 200m; Stephanie Kambo (WHP) – women’s taekwondo: Annette Kora (AROB) – women’s boxing; Thaddeus Katua (AROB) men’s boxing; George Yamak (Western) – 1500m; Skene Kiage (Simbu) 3,000m; Edward Saleau (Manus) – men’s boxing.