Four track athletes leave to take up college studies in Kansas, US


FOUR Papua New Guinea track athletes left for the United States (US) where they will take up studies at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kansas.
The athletes are 800m runner/400m hurdler Ephraim Lerkin, 200m and 400m specialist Shadrick Tansi, and female sprinters Leonie Beu and Isila Apkup.
Their travel is the culmination of a lengthy process which was drawn out as a result of the Covid-19 situation and its knock-on effect on visa and travel arrangements.
Athletics PNG (APNG) thanked Air Niugini for a 50 per cent discount on the athletes’ fares to Brisbane, Australia, and the US Embassy for its understanding and assistance with the visa process.
APNG is mindful of the Covid-19 situation in the US and has provided the athletes with relevant advice and information on the matter.
They will be following the strict health and safety protocols set by the school and their coaches.
Beu and Lerkin are receiving scholarship support from Cloud which will cover their tuition fees in full.
Tansi was also granted a scholarship worth 75 per cent of the tuition costs. Lerkin thanked APNG on behalf of the athletes for its support in facilitating the programme, and the PNG Olympic Committee for its support by way of a training grant from Team PNG’s Pacific Games preparation funding.
APNG President Tony Green said the junior college option was a good route for many athletes as the costs involved were modest.
“With four athletes going to the same school, it enables significant savings on accommodation and meals,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Pacific Games decathlon gold Medallist Robson Yinambe and 4x100m relay gold medallist Wesley Logorava both attended Cloud in 2017-2018 and APNG has maintained the relationship with the coaches there.
“The men’s team won a competitive outdoor national championships last year which was attended by teams from 31 junior colleges from across the US,” Green said
“The women’s team placed seventh from 34 teams and will be looking to improve on that next year.”
Commenting on the athletes’ travel, Green said it had been a challenge negotiating the travel.

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