L eroy Kamu was in Grade Eight at the Kalamanaguna Primary School in 2014 when he started to fall in love with athletics.
He watched with interest athletes training at the Kokopo Secondary School grounds every afternoon after school.
Leroy was not even aware that he too had natural talents like them to excel in athletics – until a school sports day when he was told to run the 100 meters with a group of boys.
He came second in the race. But he felt something coming alive inside him that convinced him that he possessed some special gift too.
His big break came in 2015 when he was selected for Grade 9 at the Kokopo Secondary School, a school well known for producing provincial and national reps.
“My interest in athletics grew knowing that the school has produced some of the best athletes representing the province and country. I was happy that I can unleash my potential in the athletics arena.
“The physical education teachers knew what training programme to guide us. My interest grew stronger and I started to love athletics more than any other sports.”
Leroy for the first in his life came first in the 100-meter race during the school’s inter-house competition. He reveled in his victory and was determined to achieve more.
In 2016, while in Grade 10, he was selected to represent the school in the all-schools carnival in East New Britain competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints.
He performed so well that provincial selectors inked him in to represent ENB at the national championship in Lae.
“For the first time, I was representing ENB. It was a milestone achievement for me.”
He came second in the 100-meter race and first in the 200 meters.
PNG athletics officials were taking note too. In 2017, the West New Britain-born teenager was selected in the PNG Under-20 team for a competition in Fiji. He won gold in the 200m and came fifth in the 100m.
After the trip to Fiji, they flew him back to Kokopo to continue his Grade 11 studies.
In 2017, his dad was transferred to Alotau. There was little going on there in athletics. And his parents told him to concentrate on his school work more.
After Grade 12, he arrived in Port Moresby to attend the International Business Studies Institute at Six-Mile. His uncle John Tuka and aunt Melinda Tuka encouraged him to put on his shoes and start training again.
Leroy went to see PNG speedster Nelson Stone to assist him. He welcomed Leroy back to the track.
During the recent PNG Air national athletics championships at the Sir John Guise Stadium, Leroy won gold in the 100m clocking 10.57sec, 200m clocking 21.80sec and 400meter with a time of 48.17sec.
“The only thing that will make you improve in athletics is your commitment and dedication to training. So you have to work hard and sacrifice your time. Cut down on bad habits like drinking, going out with friends and chewing buai. These little things can affect your training. And the most important thing is discipline.”
Leroy dreams of representing the country in the Olympics in Japan this year and one day be rated the fastest man in the Pacific.
Impossible? No, not to Leroy.
- Story and pictures supplied by