Kaputin awarded Olympic place


Jumper Rellie Kaputin will represent Papua New Guinea at the Tokyo Olympics (July 23-Aug 8) after World Athletics yesterday awarded her a place under the universality rule.
Kaputin has been training with her coach Phillip Newton since February, 2020, in Kingscliff, which is just over the New South Wales border, south of the Gold Coast.
She has been working towards qualifying for the long jump event in the athletics competition for the Olympics.
Chef de Mission Tamzin Wardley confirmed that the PNG Olympic Committee was advised of the decision by World Athletics yesterday morning.
“It is an exceptional result as acceptance into a field event, such as the long jump, is not just based on her current world ranking but her current performance as well,” she said.
“Her place had to be approved by a board of technical delegates, as the field of athletes for the long jump is a set number.
“Rellie has been competing in the recent Australian athletics circuit events in her lead-up to the Games and it was just last weekend, at the Festival of Athletics in Townsville, that she landed her season’s best jump at 6.42 m.”
PNG athletics has had their top-two female athletes, Kaputin and Toea Wisil, vying for the sole universality spot on offer.
This sole spot is available to countries that have not managed to qualify an athlete by reaching the qualifying mark.
Wardley explained that achieving a qualifying time or jump had been very challenging due to the lack of competitions available for PNG athletes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The final selection of athlete was based on each athletes current world ranking.
Kaputin is now the eighth and final athlete in Team PNG for the Tokyo Olympics, with all events now closed.
“I’m super proud to realise my childhood dream of being an Olympian,” she said.
“It has not been an easy journey with injuries, but giving up was not an option for me.
“I knew my determination, patience and trusting the process would finally be worth it.
“All credit to my coach, Phillip Newton, who put all his heart and time into helping me achieve a lifetime of a dream. So excited to put on my red, gold and black and compete against the world’s best jumpers.
“Here I come, Tokyo.”
Wardley confirmed that PNG will have four female and four male athletes across five sports. They are Kaputin, John Ume (boxing), sailing siblings Rose-Lee and Teariki Numa, Judith Meauri, Ryan Maskelyne (swimming), Dika Toua and Morea Baru (weightlifting).
The first members of the team will depart for Japan on July 16.