Numa off to Tokyo

Sports
Papua New Guinea sailor Teariki Numa competing in the World Laser Championships in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this month. Numa has sealed a spot at the Tokyo Olympics. – Picture courtesy of PNGOC

SAILOR Teariki Numa is the first Papua New Guinea athlete to secure a spot at the Tokyo Olympics which begins on July 24.
Competing in the laser standard class, the 20-year-old, from Hula, grabbed the spot during the Oceania qualifiers which were held during the World Laser Championships in Melbourne, Australia, from February 8-17.
Sailing PNG president Graham Numa was a proud man when he received the news in Port Moresby, saying the Olympics had been a target over the last four years.
“I’m very proud of Teariki’s achievement and looking forward the work ahead in getting him ready for the Olympics,” Graham said.
Teariki Numa, who works as a strength and conditioning trainer with Cricket PNG, had been in intensive training off the coast of Bootless Bay. Along with his older sibling and fellow sailor Rose, the two are coached by their older brother Raymond.
The sport is hoping to qualify another place through Rose but will wait on the outcome of her performance with the women’s event ending on Friday.
“He (Teariki) was up against the best from around the world so it was a tough contest and he struggled a bit but we all didn’t have any expectations, we just knew that he was going to give his best,” Graham said.
There were two places available for Oceania at this event and while one was given to PNG, the other went to Samoa.
Teariki thanked Sailing PNG for the opportunity and also the PNG Olympic Committee for the support which enabled him to attend the event.
In a Facebook post, he said: “The Olympics has been a dream for years, the last couple of months and years have been brutally draining, preparing for qualifiers and actually qualifying.
“To my family, I wouldn’t have been in this position if it wasn’t for them, constantly cheering and supporting me.” He will return to PNG to continue training before departing for Brisbane for further preparations.
Like the World Championships, Teariki will be heading into the Olympics with realistic expectations and a desire to put his best foot forward.
Graham said Numa wanted to finish ahead of his Samoan counterpart Eroni Leilua who had finished in front of him at the qualifiers. Graham, who is also Teariki’s dad, was the last person to represent PNG at the Olympics in the sport of Sailing.
This was at the Olympic Games in 1992 at Barcelona. He also competed at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
However, Graham competed in the wind-surfer class and Teariki will be sailing the laser.
“That was 28 years ago, Teariki was not even born yet and I am pleased to see that sailing will be flying the PNG flag again at the Olympics,” Graham said.
Sailing PNG is aiming to raise funds to support the training and preparations, and is appealing to sponsors who can assist its cause.
Other sports still trying to qualify for the Olympics are athletics, boxing, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, table tennis, tennis, triathlon, weightlifting and women’s rugby sevens.

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