Maskelyne breaks own record


PAPUA New Guinea swimmer Ryan Maskelyne broke his own national record in the 200m breaststroke at Tokyo Aquatics Centre to finish second in his heat at the Olympic Games in Japan.
The 22-year-old, however, did not advance to the next stage as in order to qualify for the semifinals, he needed to swim faster than two minutes, 10 seconds.
He swam about two minutes, 15s (2:15.33).
Nevertheless, Maskelyne — who is based in Brisbane, Australia — was ecstatic with setting a new national record and attributed his performance to his work with coach Shaun Crow.
“It was pretty special,” he said.
“I didn’t have the best preparation for the last week as I have been dealing with some issues with my knee and (Team PNG physiotherapist) Matthew Natusch has been awesome with helping me sorting that issue out.
“I thought I was going to go slower than what I did six weeks ago at the Australian trials which was 2:17.56.
“To go out and do a personal best and do it at the Olympics is pretty special.
“My goals were to be the best Pacific Islander in my event, set a personal best and win my heat.
“To tick off two out of my three goals is amazing.
“Having the opportunity to live and train in Brisbane has been a great blessing throughout this time as Queensland has been largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic over the last 12 months.
“There have been a few short three-day lockdowns in which I was given permission by the Queensland government to train.
“The biggest thing for me over the past 12 months is training to full capacity without a clear indication if the Games would actually go ahead.”
Maskelyne was born in PNG and started competing for Team PNG at the 2015 Pacific Games.
He represented Team PNG again at the 2015 and 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa and the Bahamas respectively.
In 2017, Maskelyne competed at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan.
In 2019, he compete in the Samoa Pacific Games where he won silver in the 200m breaststroke
He won the SP Sports Awards junior sportsman of the year in 2017.
Chef de mission Tamzin Wardley confirmed that Tokyo 2020 was Maskelyne’s Olympic debut.
“Maskelyne’s goal from these Games is to swim better than his personal best time of two minutes, 15.55s for the 200m breaststroke and to be the highest-placed Pacific Islander at the Games,” she said.
“He took part in the Australian Trials in June, but missed out on a qualifying time.”
Maskelyne is attending the Games based on the International Olympic Committee’s universality programme that allows a male and female athlete from every competing country in the world to take part.
Maskelyne is PNG’s top-ranked swimmer. He said: “To take part in any Olympics is an unreal feat and something that I am incredibly humbled by.
“Given the circumstances of these Olympics and that it has nearly been cancelled on multiple occasions, I feel this makes these Games even more special and unique.
“I am honoured and proud to be able to represent PNG on the world’s biggest stage.”