Sprinter Leroy Kamau has completed his competition programme in the United States and now heads the PNG Ranking list for 2021 in both the 100m and 200m, with clockings of 10.71secs and 21.48secs respectively.Following a period of three weeks in Kansas with his PNG teammates settling into the USA, Kamau moved to California in May for more favourable training conditions and some good competition opportunities.Due to the high costs involved and the quarantine expense on the return it was not possible for Leroy’s coach Nelson Stone to accompany him, said Athletics PNG President Tony Green. “After due consultations the decision was made to let Leroy go ahead whilst we continued to look for ways to get Nelson across, however the funding just wasn’t there”
Kamau was fortunate to be able to stay at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Centre near San Diego. The Centre was formerly owned and operated by the US Olympic Committee but is now administered by the City of San Diego. “Covid restrictions meant that Leroy had little interaction with other athletes and coaches but he had everything else that he needed all in one place, said Green. It’s a fantastic set up there”. Towards the end of his stay there, Kamau was able to connect with Bashir Ramzy, one of the US Track and Field elite coaches and it was after a couple of sessions with him that Kamau posted his seasons best time of 21.48secs for the 200m.
Kamau said that he found the staff very helpful and that the Centre is a great place to train. However most athletes there have their coaches with them and this was a disadvantage for him. “I know I would have done much better with coach (Nelson) around but I need to maintain my form and will continue working hard and wait patiently for the right time” he said.
In conclusion, Green maintained that Athletics PNG is committed to supporting its elite athletes but has very limited resources at its disposal. He thanked both Oceania Athletic Association and the US Olympic Committee for coming on board to assist with the cost for Leroy to stay at the Chula Vista Centre and compete in the Meets there. “With the Pacific and Commonwealth Games on the horizon our athletes must have a continuous programme and that includes exposure to high level competition. This experience will stand Leroy in good stead next year”, said Green
Photos by Olivia Rakowski