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Papua New Guinea: Pacific Games 2019

PNG is ready to fire at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. The PNG team have been training hard in Cairns since the conclusion of the 2019 Oceania Athletics Championships.

Rellie Kaputin is coming off double gold at the recent Oceania Champs (Long Jump & Triple Jump), and she will be trying to replicate her success in the 2015 Pacific Games and 2017 Pacific Mini Games in which she won both of the horizontal jumps. Rellie will have stiff competition in the High Jump with Shawntelle Lockington (FIJ), and Rellie having season-best jumps of 1.65m.

The 3000m Steeplechase events have been a success story for PNG in recent Games. Poro Gahekave (as a 14-year-old), won the inaugural gold medal in Apia in 2007 and will be trying for gold again in Apia. She won the silver in Port Moresby (2015). The “old man” of the Steeplechase, PNG’s Sapolai Yao (36 years of age) will be trying to win the gold for the third time after success in Apia in 2007 and Port Moresby in 2015. He will find it hard to beat the aggressive front running Simbai Kaspar who delivered a massive personal best with his 9:32.99 in Townsville last month. He is getting near to the PNG National Record of John Kokinai’s 9:25.8, which has stood since 1971.

Donna Koniel is having a full programme with starts in the 400m, 400m Hurdles, 800m and 4 x 400m. This year has seen Donna make a come-back after a maternity break. In 2015 she won the gold in the 800m and the 400m Hurdles. She has recently shown good form in Cairns in a pre-Games training camp for the PNG Team. They were visited over the weekend by PNG Rugby League player, David Westley, who gave an inspirational talk to the athletes.

Time trials run this week at Barlow Park in Cairns showed us where team PNG is at before Samoa.

– Benjamin Aliel with a personal best time of 47.7 seconds in the 400m
– Ephraim Lerkin announced his return to form with a time of 1min 21.1 seconds for the 600m ahead of Messach Fred and George Yamak.
– Raylyne Kanam also showed improved form with a time of 44.9 secs.
– Simbai Kaspar maintained his dominant form in the 3000m with a personal best of 8min 54 seconds while Poro Gahekave also made a significant improvement in her personal best with a time of 10min 25secs.
– In the men’s sprints, Theo Piniau came out on top in the 100m whereas Shadrick Tansi was a clear winner in the 200m with a personal-best 21.5 sec from Piniau, Daniel Baul and Thoa Ora.
– Leonie Beu was a clear winner in the women’s 100m from Isila Apkup with nancy Malamut and Miriam Peni almost dead heating for third place.

Field event athletes meanwhile have been concentrating on the technical aspects of their events with Coaches Brett Green (throws) and Phillip Newton (Jumps and multi-events). The track and field competition starts in Apia on Monday.

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