A microcosm of life !

Well ! We returned safely on Dec. 20th. from the Oceania AA Open and under-18 Athletics Championships in Townsville, North Queensland. Apart from nearly missing the Townsville flight out of Brisbane on Dec. 14th. (due to slow working by the Qantas check-in), travel arrangements were fine, smooth and as scheduled.
We received an enthusiastic welcome from Marie (i/c the "Village") at John Flynn College of the James Cook University. Our accommodation at the College was excellent - island people are used to sleeping on the floor ! The food was varied, well-prepared, tasty and plentiful. Even better were the flexi-hours for eating it ! The transport was also luxurious and punctual.
The track at the Sports Reserve proved to be "fast" and all the facilities there were in very good order. Although an exposed site, the wind was mostly a cross-wind - causing the Javelin throwers a problem on Day 3 - thus allowing most track performances to be legally recognised. We were very lucky with the weather which was hot and sunny, and apart from Day 2 evening (after the competition) when the heavens opened for a while, rain was not a problem.
The overall organisation of the meeting (by Yvonne and Reg) was excellent - but prompted some ideas for the future, especially about interpretation of the Regulations.
As you will read in Docs and Records, our performances resembled LIFE, having ups and downs and providing joy and disappointment. As usual, most of our twelve athletes responded positively to the chance of using brilliant facilities and strict officiating by producing 16 personal bests (including four National Records), 21 places in the first eight, and returning with 2 silver and one bronze medals ! However, there is plenty to work on and learn from, e.g. staying in your lane on the bend; throwing javelin off a consistent run-up; remembering basic techniques (e.g. throw through the line of the javelin); not wearing someone else's numbers at the Call Room; and trying to follow helpful instructions.
The last night became another show-case for our Kiribati culture (and the distinctive cultures of other Pacific nations). The eight who performed two dances (to Kiribati music on imported CDs) looked excited and danced with feeling and meaning. The audience reaction was thrilling and afterwards the performance was spontaneously acknowledged as "awesome" or "fantastic". At least three people asked for copies of the discs, because they were captivated by the music and the dancers' interpretation. Thus, as in Manchester 2002, the Kiribati culture was projected to a wider audience. Thanks to (coach) Tierata for doing the (limited) rehearsals and inspiring the dancers by example.
The Closing Function also featured a number of presentations as thanks, particularly to Bill Bailey, who retired from the position of OAA Executive Director last year. Photographs of subsequent dances featuring him and other VIPs could be used for blackmail later !!
So, thanks to Yvonne Mullins, Reg Brandis, OAA for their funding, Marie, Bev, and all the background staff and officials who helped our team (with eight new to overseas competition) to have an unforgettable experience. Our squad also contributed considerably to the Townsville economy by buying fans, CDs, bags, shoes, etc. A compliment to the LOC and to adidas was that the team chose to wear identical gifted adidas shirts as their travelling uniform on the homeward journey. Thanks again Townsville ! and thanks to my colleagues Tierata Taukaban and Tiarie Uale - who were invaluable by their assistance and contact with and support of the team. DL
POST-SCRIPT.
During the Championship proceedings at the track, a special presentation of the Oceania AA Award of Merit (a framed certificate) was made to five administrators from Oceania countries. The award is made annually "in recognition of services to Athletics in Oceania". This year, one of the proud recipients was David Little, Secretary of KAA ! The KAA organisation is very grateful for this recognition of the efforts and progress being made in Kiribati.
RESULTS.
For the results of Kiribati athletes in Townsville, please check Docs and Records.


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