Athletic PNG has selected a final team of 24 male and 11 female athletes for the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
President Tony Green said the team includes few new faces selected from the recent PNG Air National Championships in Port Moresby and whose inclusion is subject to the endorsement of the Justification Committee.
Reigning Pacific Sprint Queen Toea will not participate at the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
The four-time Pacific champion pulled out of the national team for unknown reasons.
Green said Wisil took this year off for personal reasons and we respect that. However, despite her (Wisil’s) absence, I’m optimistic the women's team will still dominate at the games.
“We have Leonie Beu who will carry the hopes of PNG in the women’s sprints. She has been in sensational form this year, in the 200m and 400m” Green said.
“We have selected a quality team made up only of athletes that meet the selection criteria which of course is principally focused on the ability to contribute to the medal tally.
PNG’s main Gold medal hopes in the women’s sprints will be Beu, Adrine Monagi (hurdles and relays), Rellie Kaputin (Jumps), Scholastica Herman and Mary Tenge (middle distance), Sharon Toako (throws)
The men's 100m and 200m will be wide open this year following the retirement of Banuve Tabacaucoro.
Some exciting new talents coming through to join Leroy Kamau, Daniel Baul, Benjamin Aliel and Emmanuel Wanga will be the fast improving Adolf Kauba, Lot Samare and Robert Stringer.
PNG will have a strong team in the men’s distance events with reigning Pacific Games champion in the 3000m steeplechase Simbai Kaspar being joined by Mini Games medallists Siune Kagl, Aquila Turalom, Dilu Goiye and Israel Takap.
However, with Solomon Islands having a strong tradition in the long distance events they can be expected to rise to the occasion and be a serious threat in this event category.
Five members of the NSI development programme made it into the team with Pais Wisil and Adolf Kauba being joined by Lot Samare, Sialis Passinghan (400m hurdles) and Javelin thrower Kenny Peter.
National record holder Lakona Gerega, Karo Iga and Eldan Toti will carry PNG’s hopes in the men’s jumps.
Green said that the team is in good shape and has prepared well,
APNG will hold a final camp where all the athletes will have good coaching support and some lead up competition which is essential to get the athletes ready to perform at their best.
Meanwhile, Athletics PNG expects to retain its position as the #1 Pacific Island Nation at the Games, however the participation of Australia and New Zealand has the potential to impact the medal tally. It’s not clear at this stage what level of athletes they will send.
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