PNG’s junior paralympic athletes returned home on Monday with a haul of five gold and two silver medals from the recently completed Australian Youth Paralympics in Melbourne.
The six-member team comprised four athletes Joyleen Jeffrey, Chris Tatavue, Elias Pagur and Laho Maiauka and officials Sophie Tuna and Lucy Blue .
They slipped back quietly into the country to a low-key welcome by the honorary president of the PNG Paralympic committee Dr Kefu Ma and family and friends at the Jackson Airport in Port Moresby.
Dr Ma was pleased with the results, especially the new personal bests recorded at the games.
Jeffrey’s personal bests in the 100m (14.32sec) and 200m (31.18sec) earned her the gold in the U20 age group ambulant while Pagur won silver in the men’s U13 ambulant high jump clearing an impressive height of 1.13m.
Pagur finished fourth in two separate events, the long jump with a leap of 2.88m; and javelin with a throw of 13.64m.
In the men’s U18 age group ambulant, Laho Maiauka bagged silver in the 400m after clocking 1,24.65.
Maiauka also finished fifth in a time of 15.99sec in the 100m and fourth in the 200m in 32.68sec.
Tatavue won three gold in the men’s U20 age group ambulant in discus (10.52m), javelin (15.63m) and shot put (4.18m).
Tatavue and Pagur were the stand-outs with their performances at their first ever international competition.
Manageress Tuna thanked the PNG Paralympic Committee and their all their sponsors including BSP Bank, Pacific MMI, Airlines PNG, Sports Inn, PNG Ports Corporation, Tricia Industries and PNG Sports Foundation for assisted the team in PNG and in Melbourne.
“All your support were very much appreciated and had given our young children with disabilities the opportunity to show the world what we can do,” Tuna said in a statement.
The Australian Youth Paralympic Games were held in Melbourne from Oct 5-10 and were attended by all the states teams from Australia. PNG, New Zealand, and the United States were the only international teams that participated.
PNG Paralympic Committee will now prepare for the 2012 London Paralympics having started at Melbourne.