The National, Thursday July 11th, 2013
MORE than 300 athletes will converge at the St Peters College, Ulapia, this weekend for the National Track and Field Athletic championships. This includes a total of almost 200 from the provinces of East New Britain, New Ireland and West New Britain.
“Schools in these provinces are supporting athletics strongly,” Athletics PNG president Tony Green said.
The other 100 athletes will be made up by teams from Morobe, Simbu, NCD , East Sepik and Western province.
Bougainville, Enga, Madang and Eastern Highlands will only have a token representation at the Championships. A small number of their athletes, who are in the 2015 Pacific Games target squad under the Go for Gold Programme, have been brought to a Camp in Kokopo by Athletics PNG.
Green urged team managers to submit their final confirmed entries to Monica Henao immediately upon their arrival in Kokopo.
The competition will kick off at 3pm on Friday with heats in the Open and U18 men’s 800m, 400m, and the mens 10,000m final; followed by two full days of competition on Saturday and Sunday.
A strong competition was expected in most of the open men’s and women’s track events with athletes aiming to confirm their places in the team for the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna.
The middle distance races will be the most competitive, with a number of promising up and coming athletes challenging the senior athletes.
17-year-old Kaminiel Matlaun, representing ENB won a competitive mens 800m race in Kavieng last weekend, fast improving Veherney Babob together with Freddie Hongoworie and Richard Dataona from Port Moresby, will guarantee good race.
The mens 400m hurdles also promises to be a good race with Raymond Koniel of Utu Secondary School upsetting the form book last weekend by getting to the line ahead of Port Moresby’s Manuai Kenas in 57.29 seconds.
In the women’s 400m, favourite Betty Burua would be challenged by Donna Koniel, Shirley Vunatup and Pauline Kupai.
The women’s long jump also looks like being very competitive with an improving Rellie Kaputin up against Helen Philemon and Eunice Steven with talented youngster Annie Topal also in the mix.
A full range of events will also be offered in the U18 division for both men and women.
Athletics PNG will announce its team for the Pacific Mini Games after the Championships.
Green said the justification process had already been completed and the team was more of less finalised already, however squad members would be expected to perform well at the championships.