National Track and Field Athletic Championships.
Over three hundred athletes will converge on St Peters College Ulapia this weekend for the National Track and Field Athletic Championships. This includes a total of almost 200 from the Provinces of East New Britain, New Ireland and West New Britain. “Schools in these provinces are supporting athletics strongly said Athletics PNG President Tony Green and we will have both Primary and Secondary school athletes from ENB following on from a number of school carnivals held in May and June”. The balance will be made up by teams from Morobe, Simbu, NCD , East Sepik and Western Province. North Solomons, Enga , Madang and Eastern Highlands will only have a token representation at the Championships, with a small number of their athletes who are in the 2015 Pacific Games target squad having been brought to a Camp in Kokopo by Athletics PNG under the Go for Gold Programme. Green urged team managers to submit their final confirmed entries to Monica Henao immediately upon their arrival in Kokopo.
The competition will kick off at 3pm on Friday with heats in the Open and U18 Mens 800m, heats in the 400m , and the mens 10000m final; followed by two full days of competition on Saturday and Sunday. Nestle PNG will again be the major sponsor through its MILO brand Strong competition is expected in most of the open mens and womens track events with athletes aiming to confirm their places in the team for the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna. The middle distance races will be the most competitive with a number of promising up and coming athletes challenging the senior athletes. Seventeen year old KaminielMatlaun , representing East New Britain won a competitive mens 800m race in Kavieng last weekend but a fast improving Veherney Babob together with Freddie Hongoworie and Richard Dataona from Port Moresby will guarantee another good race this Sunday. The mens 400m hurdles also promises to be a good race with Raymond Koniel of Utu Secondary School upsetting the form book last weekend by getting to the line marginally ahead of Port Moresby’s Manuai Kenas in a good time of 57.29 seconds. A quality race is expected in the womens 400m with favourite Betty Burua being challenged by Donna Koniel , with a fast improving Shirley Vunatup and Pauline Kupai also in the race. The womens long jump also looks like being very competitive with an improving Rellie Kaputin up against Helen Philemon and Eunice Steven with talented youngster Annie Topal also in the mix.
A full range of events will also be offered in the Under 18 division for both men and women. In the under 16 division there will be 100m 200m 400m long jump , high jump and javelin whereas the under 14 will only be for 100m 200m and 400m. Junior age athletes must however compete in the open division if they are aiming for a place in the 2013 Mini Games team.
Athletics PNG will announce its team for the Pacific Mini Games soon after the Championships. President Tony Green said that the justification process has already been completed and the team was more of less finalised already, however squad members will be expected to perform well at the Championships.