RYAN Pini did it again for Papua New Guinea by winning a medal in the Commonwealth Games.
He won a silver medal after finishing behind one of Australia’s great swimmers, Geoff Heugill, in the men’s 100m butterfly final.
Huegill clocked 51.69 to get gold while Pini and Anthony James of England shared second place with 52.50.
Pini qualified in the heats with 54.17 and improved that to 53.12 in the semi-final.
Pini won gold in this event in Melbourne in 2006 and put in his best effort again last Friday and was pleased with his performance.
“I’m extremely happy that I got a medal and also for the support from the team here,” Pini said after arriving back at the village with a throng of supporters in tow.
He said swimming against Heugill was always going to be a tough challenge but he gave his best.
“Geoff’s a world champion and world record holder, so it’s a big challenge swimming against him,” he said.
Pini arrived back at the village to the dancing and singing of other PNG officials and athletes in the night.
Led by the weightlifting team, they sang, cheered and danced in front of their accommodation building with Pini in the middle with his medal.
They held placards that read: “A land abounds with nature’s gift Ryan Pini”, “See what one silver medal can do to six million people” and “You’ve done us proud again”. On his door, they stuck a photo of him printed on A4 paper that read; “Congratulations, our champion!” along with congratulatory messages.
General team manager, John Susuve, welcomed Pini back to the village and congratulated him on his win.
Susuve also thanked Pini’s parents, Kevin and Sarenah for their time and commitment to making sure their son attended high level training.
“Everyone’s happy with Ryan’s win but we also thank Mr. and Mrs. Pini for their efforts in contributing to the team and also for Ryan’s achievements which is a big thing for the country,” he said.
Team PNG Chef de Mission, Tamzin Wardley, Pini’s parents and brother, Jason were there when he swam and also at the village to see the team celebrate with him.
“It has been a long four years since 2006 and I would like to thank everyone in PNG for their support,” Pini said.
Since wining gold in 2006, he has had surgeries on his shoulders but kept up his form with good training under coach, Frederic Van de Zant in Brisbane.
Pini’s achievement also reflected the good run the PNG team has had in this year’s games.
Susuve said a number of other athletes also made it to the finals in this year’s games and which is a good sign for PNG sports.
The level of discipline shown by our athletes from day one until now has been good and management is happy with their conduct on and off the field.