Trio eye Rio

Normal, Sports

The National,Thursday March 31st, 2016

 THE race is on to secure the one place allocated to Papua New Guinea under universality rules for a male athlete in track and fields at the Olympic Games. 

Athletics PNG last year named three contenders for this place and set out how the selection process would work. 

The athletes are three-time Olympian and four-time Pacific Games 400m hurdles champion Mowen Boino; double Pacific Games 400m champion and London 2012 representative for PNG Nelson Stone; and rising star in the 200m and 400m, Theo Piniau.

The athlete selected will be the one who — by the PNG Olympic Committee deadline of June 19 — has the best performance by reference to the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) scoring tables in athletics. 

The tables are a recognised method of comparing performances in different events, with each performance worth a certain number of points.

The better the time the more points it is worth.

 Stone’s best 200m time last year of 21.28 seconds is worth 1027 points, whereas Boino’s best time (last year) of 51.51s is worth 1056 points. 

“Whoever has the best performance this year up to June 19, will be selected and it looks like being very competitive,” Athletics PNG president Tony Green said.

“Nelson and Mowen are determined to make it to Rio — and with Theo improving — it could be any one of these three.”

Boino made a good start to his campaign, with a solid 49.81s for 400m at the world indoor championships in Portland, Oregon, USA, on March 19. 

“This was a good time, considering this was his first race and the 400m is not Mowen’s main event,” Green said.

“It compares favourably with Theo’s best indoor 400m this year of 49.61.” 

Boino has been accepted to run the invitation 400m hurdles at the prestigious Texas Relays Meet in Austin, Texas on Friday (Saturday morning, PNG time). 

“This will be a strong field and very good race for Boino and he is looking forward to it.”

Athletes from Jamaica, Puerto Rico and USA are included in the list of entrants published on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Nelson Stone’s training in Brisbane has not been going well this year. 

Injury and a medical condition affected his training, as well as his competition programme through February and much of this month .

He has only just started full training. 

“Stone is disappointed not to be taking part in the Australian national championships this weekend as he did not post a qualifying mark this season and has now shifted his focus towards competition at the end of April,” Green said.

This is not the first time that Stone has faced an uphill battle to prove himself and he will be calling on all of his mental strength to help him reach the required level.

Piniau will have access to regular competition through his programme with West Texas A&M University for the next two months before returning home to PNG for the summer college break.

In other Athletics PNG news, only two female athletes remain in contention for a place in the Olympic Games following the withdrawal of Sharon Kwarula and Betty Burua.  

The in-form Toea Wisil remains the overwhelming favourite for selection and is still optimistic of running a qualifying time. 

Regardless of this, her status as an Olympic scholarship holder means she will be PNG’s nominee under the scholarship rules unless Donna Koniel can run a qualifying time. 

Both athletes will be competing at the Australian National Championships in Sydney this weekend.

Koniel is understood to have recovered from the sore Achilles tendon that hampered her performance at the Queensland championships last month.