Former athlete Mae Koime shares her trials and joys of motherhood
By REBECCA KUKU
BORN and raised in Port Moresby’s notorious Kaugere suburb, one young woman from Baimuru, Gulf beat the odds, fought for her dreams and achieved them.
Former PNG sprint queen Mae Koime, now Mrs Mae Kearsley tells us about her journey.
Mae was born on Dec 14, 1983 to Kaina Koime Muri and his wife Dora Koime. She was the second born in family of seven children (four girls and three boys).
In 1999, whilst Mae was doing her Grade 9 at KilaKila Secondary School, she took part in the inter-house carnival and was selected to represent her school at the NCD inter-school carnival.
At that event she was approached by Port Moresby athletics coach Naomi Polum and Athletics PNG president Tony Green who saw her potential to be a sprint champion.
And since then, Mae has achieved milestone after milestone.
In 2002, she was part of the World Athletics Juniors Championship in Kingston, Jamaica where she broke the PNG women’s 100m record.
In 2006, she was the Melbourne Commonwealth Games flag bearer. She had lunch with Queen Elizabeth during the games.
She was also invited to have lunch with Papua New Guinea’s first Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his beautiful wife Lady Veronica at the Games village.
“Another highlight for me at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games was when I made it into the semifinals of the women’s 100m.
“But I guess the biggest highlight would be qualifying by right to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, then going in as a wild card athlete. I had set the new PNG women’s record to 11.37secs in the Australian National Championship in Brisbane in 2006 which gave me the right to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. Mae held the PNG women’s 100m record until Toea Wisil slashed it to 11.29 sec a few years later.
“So, I really enjoyed my athletics career. Athletics has got me going around all the world’s continents except for Africa. It has taken me half way around the world from Jamaica in the Caribbean to Los Angeles in America, to Paris, Scotland, Austria, Finland, Athens, Slovenia, to Budapest, in Europe, to Japan, China, India, Thailand in Asia and to Oceania.
“It also gave me opportunities to continue on my education finishing my Grade 11 and 12 in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, attending Goroka Grammar School in 2002 and 2003.
“Athletics also made me become very independent, gave me the confidence to do public speaking, interacting with different people from different parts of the world and from all walks of life,” she said.
But life wasn’t all that easy for her. Mae has had her own heartbreaks and share of battles.
In 2011, when she was 27 years old, she gave birth to her first born son, who later passed away when he was just six months old.
The young mother was devastated but she kept walking. Two years later, she had her rainbow baby, Jayden.
“Being a mum is the best thing ever for any woman, it changes your perspective. I once raced for gold medals but when I became a mum, my children meant more to me than the gold medals.
“My whole world changed and I had this purpose in life and it was now all about my children.
“I was a single mum, there were so many challenges I faced but being a mum is amazing. Your children give you the strength to wake up each day, go out there and work hard for them.
“I told myself, it was the same thing as going out on the track and winning.
“So I went back and in 2013, I also represented PNG in the women’s rugby union 7s in Hong Kong and our team was called the PNG Raggianas.
“I played rugby league for the Magic Highway Ravens against Porebada Bulldogs women’s team. We played the curtain raiser to the SP PNG Hunters match against Penrith Panthers as the opening of the National Football Stadium in 2013 and I was the first person to score a try at new the NFS.
“And after having my son in 2013, I secured my first permanent job with EMTV as a sports producer/presenter.
“Over the years, my children and I became a team. My kids were my world and I decided to concentrate on the positive side of things only and strive to do my best for them.
“Like I said, if I could go out and win on the track, I could make it for my kids because they were more precious than the medals I won.”
“And with God, everything is possible. I put my worries and my challenges at his feet and continue to live one day at a time.
“And then I met this wonderful guy, who walked into my life and loved me for me. And I thank God for through it all, I knew that this guy was going to walk into my life, and love me.
“I got married on Oct 27, 2018 at the Nature Park wedding chapel, Port Moresby to my husband Peter Michael Kearsley, who is from Cummins, South Australia.
“We had over 300 people who attended the wedding, mostly coming from Kaugere.
“It was a big change in my life. I am now married and am a wife and mother and now have obligations to my own family.
“I was in that fast lane but now I had to stop and tell myself that I am no longer in that fast lane anymore. It’s time now to concentrate on my family and the best for my children.
On Sept 13, 2019 Mae and her family moved to Melbourne, Australia to start a new life with her children and to give them the best in education.
“It was a happy and also heartbreaking moment for me to leave my immediate family behind,” she recalls.
“But God has been good to us. My daughter Thalia Kearsley, 10, is doing Grade 5 and son Jayden Kearsley, 6, is doing Grade 1. They both attend Rolling Hills Primary School in Melbourne, Victoria.
“Thalia plays netball for her school as a defender, Jayden is interested in playing rugby league and hopes to one day represent PNG. He loves PNG Kumuls and is a fan.
“I am a mum again and expecting my third child, it’s very exciting. I did not know I was pregnant until Oct 3, 2019 when I was also already two months pregnant.
“It is a great blessing because I am having a baby girl. I thank God almighty for blessing me with another blessing and an addition to my small family. I am due on May 20, 2020.
“So my encouragement to young women out there is, it doesn’t matter where you were born at or raised in. You can achieve things if you work hard and believe in yourself.
“And having children doesn’t mean your dreams end there. See children as blessings, inspirations and motivations, all the more reason to fight for your dreams.
“And above all, don’t ever forget God. He loves you and has the best plan for your life. I mean, if I could send a message to myself 10 years back, I’d tell myself to hang in there and know that I can do this.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, through God all things are possible.
“Follow your instinct, keep believing that success will come. With determination and always trusting yourself, you’ll get there.
“God is the answer to everything I have in my life. Believe, have faith and be patient. So always believe in yourself. Have a goal and work hard towards it. Never put yourself down, the change in your life starts with you.
“Get out there on your own track and run your own race. You can do it!”
Mae is a currently a full time mum and also studying as well.