Mowen Boino was born on the 16th December, 1979. He will turn 38 years of age the day after the Closing Ceremony for the Vanuatu Mini Pacific Games.
He grew up with sport, being a keen Rugby player, and having an elder brother, John Boino, who was a good high jumper (1.92m), and also reaching competitive distances in the Triple Jump.
In 1996, an Olympic Year, Mowen started to think about giving Athletics a try, but was still happy with his Rugby career and did not make the move. In 1997, his sister, along with the help of sports’ journalist/triple jumper, Martin Liri and sprinter Dalos Umul, persuaded Mowen to give Athletics a serious try. He was soon down at the track joining his training partner, Clement Abai, and part of coach Naomi Polum’s squad.
The Port Moresby Athletics scene had a wealth of serious athletes, the main ones being Clement Abai, Subul Babo, Peter Pulu, Terry Seph and the Bai Brothers. Who could ever forget that iconic relay team of Bai, Bai, Bai and Abai. Eddie Bai and Samuel Bai were joined on occasions by Jeffrey Bai who was still in East New Britain. The highly competitive nature of training and competition was good for Mowen. Fairly soon he was introduced to the hurdles, and his first ever hurdles race was against Mary-Estelle Kapalu.
In the 1999 National Championships, held in Port Moresby, Mowen came second to Clement Abai in the 400m in the time of 49.8 seconds, and second behind Ivan Wakit in the 400m Hurdles in 54.5 seconds. He was about to make his international debut in the 1999 South Pacific Games in Guam. In Guam, the newcomer shocked all with his bronze medal performance in the 400m Hurdles with the time of 52.81 seconds, not far behind PNG’s Ivan Wakit, and Fiji’s Jovesa Naivalu. Mowen was now in a position to seriously challenge Ivan for the #1 position in the Islands.
Olympic year saw a series of great races between Ivan Wakit and Mowen Boino over the 400m Hurdles. They knew that whoever came out on top would be PNG’s Athletics representative to the Sydney Olympics. It all came down to one race, and Mowen narrowly got the nod over Ivan. The baton had been passed on to the next generation. Mowen has held that 400m Hurdles supremacy for 17 years now, and is reluctant to relinquish it. He has a serious adversary in fellow countryman, Ephraim Lerkin, who is very keen to receive the baton from Mowen and establish his own period of time on the top of the podium. The rivalry is one to be keenly anticipated.
Since the Sydney Olympics, Mowen has put together a series of performances that have resulted in him staying at the top. He started his medal winning ways in the 400m Hurdles on Norfolk Island in 2001 and has continued with success at the 2003 SPG in Suva, 2007 SPG in Apia, 2011 PG in Nouméa, 2013 MPG in Wallis & Futuna, and 2015 PG in Port Moresby. In addition he was won the 110m Hurdles in the 2011 and 2013 Games. Add to that his efforts in the 400m and many gold medals for the PNG Team in the 4 x 400m Relay. And there is more to come on the Pacific Island front.
In Oceania competitions Mowen has been a regular participant in both the Area Championships and the Regional Championships. In full Oceania competition he has been either 1st or 2nd in the 400m Hurdles Championships in 2000 (Adelaide), 2002 (Christchurch), 2006 (Apia), 2008 (Saipan) 2010 (Cairns), 2013 (Tahiti) and 2015 (Cairns). He has also had success in the 110m Hurdles when he choses to enter the event. He has been a consistently strong supporter of Pacific Games and Oceania Championships competition since he first represented PNG in 1999.
In 2002 Mowen became the only Pacific Islander to ever represent Oceania in the IAAF World Cup when he ran in the 400m Hurdles in Madrid. He has competed at three Olympics (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 & Beijing 2008), three IAAF World Championships (2001 Edmonton, 2007 Osaka & Moscow 2013), four Commonwealth Games (2002 Manchester, 2006 Melbourne, 2010 New Delhi & 2014 Glasgow), and one World Indoor Championship (2016 Portland). His career has been in progress for 20 years and it is still not over. There is more to be achieved.
Melbourne Commonwealth Games and running a time of 50.37 seconds – the best ever by a Pacific Island athlete. His time still stands today 11 years later.
There is always talk of retirement, but he will not entertain it at this stage. He is focused on the December 2017 Mini Games in Vanuatu, where he lives with his ni-Vanuatu wife Millie and his three sons – Wariame (9 years), Tony (7 years) and Moken (5 years). He met Millie when she was a student at the Goroka Teachers’ College, and he was training at the National Sports Institute also in Goroka, and they married in 2006.
Mowen recognizes the serious challenge being mounted by PNG youngster, Ephraim Lerkin, but feels that if his preparation goes well for the rest of the year, he might continue on into 2018 and win yet another place on Team PNG to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. After that, who can tell? He feels that if Felix Sanchez (Dominican Republic) can win a 400m Hurdles Olympic gold medal at 35-years of age and was still running competitive times at 37, then he can keep on keeping on as well. His two good runs of 53 seconds this year (Bangkok and Suva), were both done with limited preparation. With a good track, hurdles and appropriate competition in either Port Moresby, Suva or Australia, there is no reason why he cannot “turn back time” and show the youngsters that the old man is not yet ready to retire. The flecks of grey in his beard are only there to lull the younger opposition into a false sense of security!
Mowen’s personal best performances over a wide range of events are –
100m 11.26 seconds
60m H 8.67
Long Jump 6.57m
Mowen holds the best 26 performances by a PNG athlete in the 400m Hurdles, and his time of 50.37 is a Pacific Islands Best Performance. His 26th best time is 51.41 seconds, still safely beyond anyone in the Pacific, except Ephraim Lerkin. Mowen has run under 51 seconds ten times.
The Athletics fraternity in PNG and the Pacific Islands are glad that Mowen did not stay with his first love – Rugby. He still has more to offer and we wish him well in his preparation for the Home-Away-From-Home Games in December.