Mini Games begin

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COMMONWEALTH bowls gold medallist Geua Tau proudly held the PNG flag aloft as she led Team PNG into the Bank of Cook Islands Stadium at Tereora, Cook Islands, during Monday’s 2009 Mini Pacific Games opening ceremony.
PNG is among 21 South Pacific Islands nations competing at the Games.
Team PNG manager John Susuve told The National from Rarotonga that the opening ceremony was conducted in typical Polynesian style, featuring a traditional Cook Islands welcome.
“The welcome was brief to keep the athletes and officials from the searing heat yesterday,” Susuve said.
He said flag-bearer Tau beat two other contenders – Monalisa Leka (netball) and Aiwa Wright (va’a) – to be the flag carrier on the day.
Team PNG, which consists of squash, netball, va’a, lawn bowls and sailing officials and competitors, were part of Monday’s opening ceremony, while touch footballers were still in transit. The rugby union team will leave tomorrow for the Games.
Susuve said the major objective for PNG was to be a part of the Pacific Games family.
“We have a record to maintain and that is to win the number one spot,” he said.
“PNG won most gold in the second Mini South Pacific Games at this same venue in 1985,” he said. However, the team manager said it would be impossible for PNG to emulate this feat as they are competing in only seven team sports.
Individual sports such as boxing, weightlifting and athletics failed to meet the necessary requirements to attend the games.
Team PNG, had in the past, enjoyed good medal returns from these three sports, along with swimming, and making PNG a force at the abbreviated version of the Pacific Games.
Susuve said a lot of countries are questioning why PNG did not send their athletes in these three sports that had always provided stiff competition for their Pacific Island neighbours, particularly their Melanesian counterparts Fiji.
Susuve said a total of 23 athletes and officials, including 17 for water sports va’a, arrived last week. The balance of the total 120 in the squad are due on Friday.
Team PNG will be further boosted during the games with the arrival of the 2015 Pacific Games bidding team from PNG, which comprise the Minister responsible for Sports Dame Carol Kidu, Deputy Opposition leader Bart Philemon, bid committee chairperson Mel Donald, NCD Governor Powes Parkop and police officer  Supt Andy Bawa. Susuve was pleased with the conditions and said