Oceania Championships Cairns
The Oceania Championships in Athletics held in Cairns this weekend was a resounding success for team PNG with two national records and a host of personal best performances amongst the many outstanding results achieved. Leading the way was Betty Burua who ran down New Zealander Louise Jones to win a high quality womens 400m in a seasons best 54.32 seconds , with Donna Koniel running a massive personal best 54.89 to win bronze. Things got even better for Koniel on Sunday when she ran another huge personal best , this time in winning the 800m in 2min 09.58 seconds. Burua had earlier almost caused a big upset in the 200m with a late charge. ToeaWisil had built up a big lead coming into the home straight and was relaxing towards the linewhen a fast finishing Burua almost got there first. Wisil clocked 23.71 secs withBurua finishing second in 23.74. Wisil as expected won the 100m with an excellent time of 11.41 secs.
The womens sprint squad continued their good form in the 4*100m relay with Wisil,Burua, Helen Philemon and young Miriam Peni bringing the baton home in a slick 46.31 seconds which is only 0.32 secs outside the national record of 45.99 achieved by the gold medal winning quartet of Mae Koime , Wisil , Ann Mooney and RaphaelaBaki at the 2007 Pacific Games. Peni also had a great weekend, with a personal best 25.21 secs in the U18 200m
The PNG middle and long distance squad continues to impress and at this championship none more so than Rama Kumilgo. The 16 year old schoolgirl from Simbu province who was discovered at the PNG Games last year broke the National record in the womens 2000m steeplechase on Friday and followed this up on Sunday with a national record in the open 3000m steeplechase, totally obliterating PoroGahekave’s time of 11min 48.74 et at the 2007 Pacific Games. With Australian Coreena Cleland setting the pace Kumilgo settled in behind her before surging into the lead just before half way and never looked back. Her winning time was a stunning 11min 10.48 seconds. Sapolai Yao made it a PNG double by comfortably taking out the mens race in 9min 39 seconds. Miriam Goiye, Ongan Awa and Mary Kua also posted very good performances in the distance races with Goiye rounding off another great championships for her with a personal best of 4min 47.05secs in the 1500m.
PNG also had some great results in the field events with Peniel Richard improving his high jump best from 2.00metres to 2.05 and recording his best ever triple jump of 14.82m. Richard and KaroIga both cleared 3.60m in the Pole Vault to go equal third on the PNG all time best list. Jane Pulu continues to improve in the Javelin and after setting a personal best 39.32 at the national championships last month improved this to 40.95m to finish fourth at the Championships
Athletics PNG President Tony Green was delighted with the performance of the team in Cairns , as were the coaching staff led by Coaching Director Sharon Hannan . IAAF Vice President Lord Sebastian Coe who witnessed the event congratulated PNG through Green for the improvements in the performance of its athletes over recent years.
Team Manager and APNG Secretary Philip Rehder thanked the Wantoks Association of Cairns for their great support in providing meals for the team. Green said that APNG was not in any great rush to announce a final team for the Pacific Games but with the May 20 deadline for submission of final entries looming he said that the team will be announced after consultations with the PNG Olympic Committee.