Written by Bob Snow – OAA and Athletics PNG Life Member
In Townsville last year, Lakona Gerega broke the PNG NR in the Javelin, which had stood since 1991, when he threw 64.89m in the Oceania Championships. Since then he has been struggling to find that form. Today, he came roaring back to his best. His third throw was an impressive 64.00m. Second was Rex Yanis (NCD) with 49.44m.
Lakona is part of a small group of throwers based in Port Moresby who are coached by experienced Australian coach Paul Bannister. Other members of this squad are Sharon Toako (NCD) and Jackie Travertz (NCD).
Sharon won both the Discus (37.12m) and the Javelin (44.20m) with Jackie winning the Hammer Throw (40.47m). Sharon, a relative novice in the Hammer threw the 4.0kg hammer 34.29m.
The Men’s Open High Jump also was closely contested with Eldon Toti (NCD) winning with a height of 1.90m edging out Karo Iga (Lae) with 1.85m.
Eldon later went on to win the Long Jump (6.90m) from Karo Iga (6.79m), Roland Hure (GSS – 6.74m), Kenneth Harrison (ENB – 6.71m), Rocka Manau (Lae – 7.64m) and Idau Asigau (NCD – 6.60m). The Long Jump proved to be very popular with 18 entries.
In the Women’s events the best performances were from Danlyne Siliven (WNB) 4.85m in the U18 Division, Vivian Tutuai (ENB) 4.79m in the U16’s, and Rebecca Kumbu (NCD) 4.70m in the Open Division.
It was good to see the live streaming spend so much time focussing on the Javelin and High Jump. They can be exciting events when the viewers are kept up with the latest information about the competition. Good to see Lakona back to his best.
There have been very few field event competitions this year. Bring on a Covid-free 2021 and we will once more get excited about the prospect of a resurgence in competition and performances across the country. PNG is very serious about its prospects in the years leading to the 2023 Pacific Games which will be in the neighbourhood – hosted by their wantoks in the Solomon Islands.
Adrine Monagi (Popondetta) won the 100m Hurdles in 14.58 (0.0) from Serah Neuendorf (Daru) 18.17 seconds. The Men’s 110m Hurdles was won by Robert Oa (NCD) 15.93 (nwi) from Devendra Zabedee (NCD) 17.83, and Robson Yinambe (NIP) 18.05 seconds.
In the afternoon we had the finals of the 200m events.
The winners in the age divisions were – Lenia Gilis (WNB) 27.73 (-2.7) in the U16’s, Danlyne Siliven (WNB) 27.77 (-3.7) from Serah Neuendorf (Daru) 27.98 seconds in the U18’s.
We disappointingly did not see Toea Wisil in the Open Women’s 200m Final. The event was won by Edna Boafob (Lae) in 25.90 (-2.5) from Adrine Monagi (Popondetta) 26.30, Gwen Pokana (NCD) 26.88 seconds and Monica Korowi (NCD) 27.00 seconds.
Toea, and some of the other elite PNG athletes must now ready themselves for the series of Oceania events that will be held in Australia and New Zealand in the months ahead. Oceania athletes are gearing up for Olympic Qualification and they have a wonderful opportunity to try and qualify for Tokyo. Details of these competitions can be found on the Oceania Athletics website.
There were so many entries for the Men’s 200m that four heats were necessary wth only the first in each heat automatically qualifying for the final. Some good athletes, including East Sepik’s Emmanuel Anis, failed to advance to the final.
Leroy Kamau scored a sprint triple-gold when he convincingly won the 200m Final. His time was 21.80 (-2.2) clearly ahead of Daniel Baul 22.34, Emmanuel Wanga 22.36 seconds, Jobby Kinzu (NSI) 22.54, Terrence Talio (NCD) 22.62 and David Guka (GSS) 22.73 seconds. All 8 runners in the final ran sub-23 seconds. In 2019 only 3 were under 23 seconds, and they had a wind reading of 0.0mps then. Good result for a Covid year.
From the Men’s age divisions the winners were Asher Lenturut (NCD) 24.03 (-1.0) in the U16 division. In the U18 event Timothy Tuna (NCD) 22.93 (-1.6) came home ahead of Graham Bai (WNB) 22.99 and Lence Okie (NCD) 23.40 seconds. There were 24 entries in the U18 200m, requiring 3 heats to determine the finalists.
The 800m Finals were held mid-afternoon with PNG looking for the next generation of serious medal contenders in both the Men’s and Women’s Divisions. Many of the good 400m and 400m Hurdles runners will eventually prepare also for the 800m but at this stage APNG is hoping for 2021 to show what can be done in this event. In the Pacific Islands it is highly competitive. Our National Records in this event are excellent, but it is a long time since Clement Abai (1:48.29) and Salome Dell (2:03.53) showed what they could do.
Lyanne Tibu (NSI) completed the middle distance double with a convincing win the Open Women’s 800m in the time of 2:20.71, having won the 1500m on Saturday.
The Open Men’s 800m Final was very closely contested with a great last gasp struggle over the final 50 metres with ENB’s Adolf Kauba (1:59.65) just edging out Jonathan Theo (NCD) 1:59.81 and Samuel Pai (WNB) 1:59.82. These young athletes now have a good opportunity to establish themselves as serious middle distance contenders before Ephraim Lerkin starts to run good times in the USA when their outdoor season starts in April/May. Good that three managed to break the 2 minute barrier.
In the 3000m races, Dilu Goiye (Simbu) won the U18 Men’s with a time of 9:38.79 before Monica Kalua (ENB) cruised to an easy victory (11:33.72) to turn the tables on Christian Moiyang (Simbu) 11:46.50, who defeated her in the 5000m on Day One.
The last individual track event was the Men’s 5000m. Would Siune Kagl (ENB) get the prized distance double? Of course he could. Siune opened up a huge lead early and was never challenged, with the real race being for second and third. His time was 16:01.18. After his 1500m win the previous day, Abel Siune (Simbu – 16:17.39) showed his speed was to his advantage as he moved ahead of third place getter, James Kuadua (ENB – 16:20.14) and Israel Takap (ENB). A tiring end to a busy weekend for the main contenders.
Like all good high level Athletics meets, the 4 x 400m Relays are a fitting end to the competition. Despite carrying niggling injuries and fighting off fatigue the athletes rose to the occasion and respond well to the cheering crowd and the encouragement of their teammates.
The best time of the relays came in the Open Men’s when the “invincible” team of Leroy Kamau, Daniel Baul, Eldon Toti and Jonathan Theo won in the time of 3:20.26 – a time that was faster than many of PNG’s earlier South Pacific Games and Mini Games teams recorded. In 2nd was the National Sports’ Institute (Alphonse Igish, Ezekiel Nawas, Jonathan Dende and Jobby Kinzu) with a time of 3:24.34, edging out Lae City with 3:25.74.
The Open Women’s race saw Lae City win in 4:16.57 marginally ahead of West New Britain 4:16.88.
Given the difficult nature of the year it was impressive to see so many well prepared athletes rise to the challenge and produce such good results without the usual progression through a normal sporting year. APNG must be very happy to see so many keen coaches, officials, administrators and athletes help to show PNG that Athletics is still a force to be reckoned with in the important years ahead.