The National, Wednesday 5th September, 2012
By YVONNE HAIP
PAPUA New Guinea’s flag bearer at the Olympic Games, Toea Wisil, shed tears of joy when she was given a surprise welcome ceremony on her return to Jiwaka yesterday.
The Olympian was given a hero’s welcome at the Kagamuga Airport in Mt Hagen and was left speechless as she was carried into waiting a vehicle.
After a 40 minute drive to Banz in Jiwaka, an even bigger group of traditional dancers, youths and Jiwaka leaders were waiting for the “Jiwaka grassroots games” hero.
Wisil’s tears of joy at that time were not because of the welcome, but because of the sign that throughout the years of her sports career, the people in the young province had silently backed her.
This, as well as the fact that Wisil, was now a local hero and role model to the youths of Jiwaka as they united to show their solidarity and support for her.
They said Wisil’s talent and efforts in being a representative sports woman for the country was after all, a pride for Jiwaka which had often been overshadowed by Western Highlands.
Wisil’s career began about 10 years ago when she first ran bare foot in the PNG Games in Lae, Morobe.
From Dubola village just outside Banz, Wisil, now PNG’s fastest female sprinter, had no formal training but came to the top the “village style”.
From humble beginnings to an Olympian, Wisil said she wanted youths in Jiwaka to recognise their talents and make use of them.
She was speechless because of the rousing welcome, but called for youths to help build Jiwaka through positive pursuits such as sports, growing cash crops or education.
Wisil has bigger plans for her career, but in the meantime, before taking on the PNG Games in Kokopo, East New Britain, she will rest and enjoy her break with her KNK tribe.
Also at the occasion were district sports coordinators and local leaders who called for Jiwaka grass roots sports to be promoted to cut down on social problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and lawlessness.