Caption: Melissa Breen of the ACT Academy of Sport (left) and Toea Wisil of Queensland compete in the women’s 100 metre open race during the 2016 Sydney Track Classic at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on March 19, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.
PACIFIC sprint queen Toea Wisil will lead a strong 36-member PNG team to the Oceania Athletics Championships in Suva, Fiji, next week.
Wisil is in sizzling form. She was in Townsville last weekend where she clocked an impressive 11.36 seconds for the 100m.
The team of 24 men and 12 women athletes is a very strong all round team which will cover all disciplines of hurdles, long distance, jumps and throws in the open division as well as the traditionally strong PNG sprint and middle distance squad.
In addition to the open athletes the team includes four junior girls and five junior boys.
The USA based contingent of Rellie Kaputin , Adrine Monagi , Poro Gahekave , Peniel Richard, Wesley Logorava, Robson Yinambe , Sharon Toako and Shirley Vunatup all come into the championships off a successful season and will join Gold Coast based elite athletes Toea Wisil , Theo Piniau and Nazmie Lee Marai who are also all in peak form.
Marai ran a personal best 10.69 for the 100m and Piniau a season’s best 48.20 in the 400m.
With Ephraim Lerkin and Emmanuel Wanga also in low 48second shape and Kaminiel Matlaun also coming into form the men’s 4x400m is looking very strong.
Former USA representative sprinter Jeremy Dodson who is now competing for Samoa will start the clear favourite for the 100m and 200m with Pacific Games gold medallist Banuve Tabacaucoro having left athletics for rugby union.
However, there is expected to be fierce competition for the minor placings with many PNG athletes including Marai and Piniau.
Logorava and Nelson Stone ready to challenge the other Fijian boys
Debono Paraka will contest the hammer throw buoyed by his recent national record of 39.10m as well as his normal routine of competing in shot put and discus.
Australia is expected to pose the biggest threat to the PNG elite athletes and some good competition is in store in Suva next week.
Letisha Pukaikia and Lawrence Lamond should feature strongly in the U18 sprints with Nancy Malamut , Leonie Beu and Lyenne Nilmo competing in the U20 women’s division.
PNG will be very competitive in the men’s U20 sprints especially with Emmanuel Wanga who won two gold medals in the U18 division at the Melanesian Championships last year.
Team officials are Nola Peni (manageress), head coach Dior Lowry (hurdles and throws); coach sprints and relays Allan Akia; middle and long distance coach Wilson Malana ; with Phillip Newton Jumps multi events.