Six young sprinters from around the country travelled to the National Sports Institute in Goroka on Saturday for a three week training camp. They are David Guka (Pom), Jobbie Kinzu (madang), Leroy Kamau (Kokopo), Junior Posai (Kimbe), Damien Kotou (Manus) and Emmanuel Wanga (Lae). The athletes represent the best performers in the under 18 division last year and are being brought together for assessment by APNG coaches and to prepare for a busy season this year. Those from the New Guinea Island Region travelled to Lae to join Lae based Wanga, nineteen year old hurdler Ephraim Lerkin (New Ireland) and senior athlete Peniel Joshua for the trip to Goroka. Coach Wilson Malana who is a participant in the PNG Olympic Committee’s GAPS programme towards the Commonwealth Games has been given the responsibility to work with the athletes under a programme and schedule set by Athletics PNG Inc. This will include some testing, various forms of training and some educational components.
APNG Secretary Philip Rehder said that the camp was an important one because PNG has always had strength in the mens sprints and efforts must be made to provide development pathways for the best of the young athletes who show their potential at our annual events such as National and Regional Championships. “We would like to involve a lot more athletes but things have been very difficult since the Pacific Games and we can only do so much. NSI Director Janet Gimots has always been very supportive of Athletics and we thank her for making this camp possible”. The Oceania Championship in Fiji at the end of June has an under 20 division; which offers a good first time overseas experience for development squad members. Athletics PNG will select its team for Fiji after the PNG Games.
Rehder took the opportunity to remind all centres of their responsibility to bring to the attention of Athletics PNG any outstanding talent in the younger age divisions especially sixteen and seventeen year olds. “There are overseas opportunities every year, but we can only select athletes whom we know about. We have very few quality genuine under 18’s on our books, he said.