By KEITH PUARIA
TEAMS started returning to their home provinces since Saturday with some leaving during this week after a fitting send-off last Saturday night.
While most provincial teams will leave Port Moresby by air, some will travel along highways and oceans back to their homes, and with them, the spoils, the disappointments and the memories of the 4th PNG Games.
Co-hosts Team NCD finally won the games with 40 golds, 25 silvers and 35 bronzes for a total of 100 medals followed by Morobe with 32 golds, 29 silvers and 27 bronzes totaling 88 medals.
Team Eastern Highlands finished third with their 18 golds, 21 silvers and 18 bronzes while 2012 hosts East New Britain came fourth with 16 golds, 11 silvers and 15 bronzes.
All other provinces won at least a medal, except for the last placed Milne Bay, who will take this result home, with the drive for the 2012 Games in East New Britain.
But then, a look-up from the bottom will find three more provinces from the Southern region directly above Milne Bay on the medal tally, and the story of urban drift unfolds.
Looking back at the events, we remember eight-year-old 30kg McQuilla Sokoli, daughter of former Mr PNG Livingstone Sokoli, who turned up for Morobe to compete in powerlifting in the 52kg division. Sokoli was in tears before her first event, the squat, but ended up with a final squat of 55kg, much to the admiration of her peers, who were double her age.
Then reflect on the feats of NCD strong man Kenny Naime, who lifted a total of 572.5kg in all his events to clinch the gold in his division.
The story of this games does not end there yet, as boxing and kickboxing unveiled a brand new blend to the ring, in the likes of Eastern Highlands Tom Boga, Bougainville’s Clayton Matarai, Gulf’s sole medal winner Roy Gavera, and Central’s Nicholas Aisa.
To the ovals, Morobe’s dual gold at both rugby codes brought hope to their ‘slow death’ on the national scene of late, whilst East Sepik proved to be the darkhorses at all venues.
Bougainville under performed at boxing, but a first at the kickboxing for most of their fighters earned them a total of seven medals.
On the track, it was the feats of Manus Paralympian Siwa Lucyann Nali that handed her fellow islanders the strength to cheer on in the final events on centre stage.
And when all the dust from these games settle, the next crop of athletes will come back out again, and prepare to represent our country.
And they were unearthed over the 11 days in the capital city at the 4th PNG Games.