ATHLETICS Papua New Guinea (APNG) says Pacific Games women’s sprint champion and national record holder for the 100m (11.29s), 200m (23.13s) and 400m (53.19s), Toea Wisil will compete in Samoa.
APNG president Tony Green said that following a social-media statement understood to be by Wisil, who appeared to be unhappy with the governing body.
“APNG is one of the oldest national sports federations in Papua New Guinea,” Green told The National in a statement ahead of the Games in Apia from Sunday to July 20.
“In this long history, athletics has and continues to produce the most medals for PNG at regional competitions, including the Oceania Championships and Pacific Games.
“At the 2015 Pacific Games hosted in Port Moresby, athletics produced 22 gold, 19 silver and 16 bronze, and we plan to continue this high level of achievement in Samoa.
“These achievements are built on a long-term strategic philosophy and plan starting with discovering athletes, building and developing, and progressively exposing athletes to competitions.
“This is a journey, not one single sports event. The age of a typical track-and-field team ranges from 16 years to late the late thirties, and this requires careful planning and administration to prepare and manage athletes.
“Contrary to the message being portrayed by a couple of individuals, the team are in high spirits and are really looking forward to the Pacific Games.
“It is most unfortunate that a small number of disaffected individuals are seeking to cause instability in the team. The question people should be asking is how on Earth does an organisation like APNG, which has such limited resources, achieve so much?
“It has managed to keep a large squad of athletes together for almost nine months, feeding and housing them and even meeting school fees.
“It has taken 20 athletes to Thailand for competition, a total of 43 athletes to the Oceania Championships and had the jumps squad training full-time in Australia since mid-May.
“This doesn’t just happen. Money is very hard to come by in PNG’s current economic climate and raising funds and in-kind sponsorships for such programmes is extremely hard work.
“Coaches who spent extended periods of time in Goroka reported that the athletes were very happy and the food arrangements were satisfactory, thanks to generous donations from Prima Smallgoods, Trukai, Lae Biscuit Company and the support of the PNG Olympic Committee (PNGOC).”
Green said a year ago, Wisil had re-affirmed her commitment to the values of excellence, friendship and respect when apologising for failing to attend the 200m medal ceremony at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games.
“Unfortunately, following a number of incidents this year where coaches and APNG board members felt disrespected and where Toea verbally abused a fellow athlete, we found it necessary to caution Toea about her behaviour,” he said. “It is unfortunate that an incident that was best handled in-house has received much press and public discussion on social media, and the conversation does not by any means represent the full story.
“APNG is working closely with PNGOC and Team PNG to sort out misunderstandings. We are not above criticism and are working to ensure that all our athletes are respected and are in a good frame of mind as they prepare for success at Samoa.
“Many of our senior athletes, including Toea Wisil have had distinguished careers and we want her and her colleagues to be remembered for their achievements, not controversy, which serves to detract from their stories.
“We urge all Papua New Guineans to support the team at this time.”