Athletes granted US Scholarships
John Rivan and Theo Piniau have been granted Oceania Foundation Scholarships to attend Southwestern Community College in Iowa, USA commencing August this year. The two nineteen year old sprinters from East New Britain who completed their Grade 12 at Kokopo Secondary School last year follow in the footsteps of Cecilia Kumalalamene , Sharon Kwarula and Wala Gime who were granted similar scholarships two years ago to attend Iowa Central Community College.
The Oceania Foundation scholarship programme enables talented young athletes to develop their sporting careers and at the same time gain tertiary education to prepare them for life after sport.
In releasing the news to the media , Athletics PNG President Tony Green said that he was very excited about the opportunities available to young athletes to join a competitive programme in the United States and at the same time get an education. “The Junior College Programme is a great opportunity for us. The costs are very modest and I hope that the relevant Government Agencies can see the benefits and support our efforts to send more athletes. “We should not rely solely on external agencies, but invest some money into a programme like this, especially with the 2015 Pacific Games in mind. Only athletes aged 17 to 20 are eligible for this particular programme but theres no reason why we cannot send other athletes at our own expense.”
Rivan first came to the attention of Athletics PNG at the 2008 National Championships in Lae when he blitzed the field in all three sprinting events in the U16 division. A little over two years later however he was faced with the prospect of being out of school, having not been selected for Grade 11. That was when Athletics PNG stepped in and secured a place for him at Grade 11, knowing that this kind of opportunity was a possibility. “John did very well at Grade 12, said Green and I’m really pleased for him”.
Piniau on the other hand only really came to the forefront of the junior athletics ranks last year when he joined the newly established Athletics PNG training programme in Kokopo. After a good year of training he produced the outstanding individual male performance of the PNG Games when he won the 400m in 49.49 seconds. “Coach Lloyd Way in Brisbane was very impressed with Theo dring his recent visit there and I’m sure both of these athletes will do very well for Southwestern Community College and themselves over the next two years” concluded Green.
PNG Sports Federation and Olympic Committee Secretary General Mrs Auvita Rapilla, in accepting the scholarships on behalf of the two athletes was very excited to see more PNG athletes being given the opportunity to study overseas whilst at the same time furthering their sporting careers. She thanked the Oceania Olympic Committee and Olympic Solidarity for their support to the Oceania Foundation.
Tony Green March 14