By BURI GABI
THE highlight of the PNG Swimming calendar this year was the awarding of the inaugural Pacific Sports Awards – the Male Athlete of the Year – to swimmer Ryan Pini during the awards night in Raratonga, Cook Islands, during the Mini Pacific Games this year.
Pini, who won a gold medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games and finished as eighth fastest swimmer on the planet at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, was the only Pacific Islands athlete to excel this far.
Ryan, from the Pini stable have lived in Port Moresby for more than two generation and became part of the swimming family.
His grand parents and parents have represented the country at the international scene.
President of PNG Swimming Inc, Elizabeth Wells, said Pini’s achievement was probably the highlight of swimming this year.
Wells said this year, PNGSI continued to promote the sport through education and competitions as laid out in the yearly swimming calendar, promoting good governance and always looking for opportunities that will best carry the sport forward into the future.
It was an important year in providing development to the national coaches through scholarships.
The first was the 1st FINA World Coaching Conference in Singapore in January.
The conference talked about developing athletes to compete on the World platform and the planning process to get there.
Oceania Swimming Association received four scholarships from Swimming Australia (SAL) for coaches in the Pacific region to attend this year’s ASCTA (Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association)/ Telstra Swim Teachers Convention at the Gold Coast, Queensland, from April 29 to May 6.
The offer came also from SAL through an Olympic Solidarity Grant they had been successful in obtaining from their Australian Olympic Committee.
Papua New Guinea coach, Joe Meauri, was selected as one of the recipients to receive the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship to attend the 2009 ASCTA Telstra Swimming Professionals Convention and the Swimming Australia Bronze Coaching Course.
The second coaching scholarship was awarded to coach Villiwa Puana of Boroko Swimming Club to attend the Australian Swim Camp held during the September holidays in Brisbane and Toowoomba and spent a week coaching alongside mentor Australian coach Shaun Crowe.
Shaun offered two full scholarships for a coach and swimmer to attend a swim camp in September.
He said it would be an ongoing scholarship to PNGSI and would cover airfare costs, camp costs and accommodation and meals for the recipients.
Wells also said PNGSI placed a high priority on quality service delivery and continual improvement in the way things were run in the organisation. This is able to happen through the unwavering support and dedication of their executive committee working together in allowing PNGSI to progress in a positive and committed manner to best serve the athletes and coaches in Papua New Guinea.
The affiliated clubs of Lae and Boroko have played an important part in the area of development, working alongside PNGSI to provide a more professional team of technical officials and coaches to run carnivals and competitions at the FINA level, and, coach our swimmers in all age groups to compete on the national and international scene.
She said records fell in the 80 age, open and masters in the last 12 months for PNG.
The support and encouragement of our athletes received throughout this year from their swimming teachers and coaches in PNG and overseas, are without doubt, a very significant factor in PNG Swimming Inc being able to identify a strong group of swimmers to represent us at the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia in May and the 13th FINA World Long Course Championships in Rome, Italy.