IN front of an expectant sea of athletes and a throng of onlookers at this year’s PNG Games opening ceremony yesterday special guest and four-time New York wheelchairmarathon winner Kurt Fearnley called for friendship, kindness and generosity to exist amongst sportsmen and women.
This was his heartfelt message which left some in tears during the opening at Sir John Guise Stadium last night.
The Australian’s incredible crawl across the Kokoda Track left a lasting impression on the 28-year-old New South Welshman who completed the trek on Wednesday morning.
Fearnley said competing in sports had showed him an incredible world but nothing more than what he had seen in the last two weeks in Kokoda.
“I have seen people with strength I have never seen before.
“The kindness and generosity from every village I passed through, such friendships I will take away and will never forget.
“I am sure the PNG Games will be played in the same spirit. I wish you all the best,” he said.
Fearnley called out to those with similar disabilities, “to my colleagues in paralympics sports, please enjoy with your peers and the country what the human spirit can achieve.
“Thank you and good luck,” he said. Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane congratulated Fearnley on completing his extraordinary challenge and said it was something which inspired everyone.
He thanked all the members of the Host Organising Committee (HOC) for organising such a big event like the PNG Games.
Sports Minister Philemon Embel, when officially opening games, said the games were seen as a unifying event and was more than just a sporting competition.
NCDC Governor Powes Parkop thanked provincial teams who overcame so many obstacles to attend the games and promised them that it would be worth it.
He said the games would expose many athletes with potential and he was excited at the prospect of witnessing the event over the coming days.
“It is a festival of skill and speed, strength and mental strength, tactics and team work with some individual brilliance, but most importantly, it will be a festival of unity for the people through this wonderful concept, our own Grassroots Olympics, the PNG Games.”