Pacific Games Team - Athletics
Athletics PNG has named a 34 strong team for the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu in December. The team of 18 male and 16 female athletes will be supported by the same team management which accompanied the team to Suva in June this year for the Oceania Championships with the addition of Port Moresby based Nabase Duaba as assistant manager. PNG will be aiming to maintain its status as the #1 team in Athletics at the Pacific Games which it has held for the last three Games with 15 gold in Noumea 2011 and in Wallis and Futuna; and 22 gold in Port Moresby.
|Nazmie Lee Marai||Sprints, Relays|
|Theo Piniau||Sprints, Relays|
|Wesley Logorava||Sprints, Relays|
|Benjamin Aliel||Sprints, Relays|
|Ephraim Lerkin||Sprints-Hurdles, Relays|
|Robson Yinambe||Decathlon, Hurdles|
|Toea Wisil||Sprints, Relays|
|Letisha Pukaikia||Sprints, Relays|
|Nancy Malamut||Sprints, Relays|
|Shirley Vunatup||Sprints, Relays|
|Annie Topal||Jumps, Hurdles|
|Adrine Monagi||Heptathlon, Sprints-Hurdles|
Despite having lost eight of its fourteen individual gold medallists from 2015 through retirement or other reasons PNG will still be the team to beat in Port Vila. With Fiji being without its talisman Banuve Tabacaucoro the PNG boys are well prepared to step in and challenge strongly for gold in the 100m and 200m. The 400m has traditionally been one of PNG’s strongest events and PNG’s hopes will be carried this time by Ephraim Lerkin, Theo Piniau and little known national champion Benjamin Aliel. Mowen Boino has been undefeated in the 400m hurdles in Pacific Games competition since 1999 and will be determined to put up a strong showing in his adopted homeland in what is almost certainly his final Games. His heir apparent Ephraim Lerkin has, though been in scintillating form this year and was a clear winner at both the Oceania Championship and Thailand Open. Both Debono Paraka and Peniel Richard have improved significantly since 2015 and will both be in the hunt for gold. Following the retirement of Sapolai Yao and Kupsy Bisamo PNG’s hopes in the distance events will be carried by Simbai Kaspar who won gold in the 5000m at the Oceania Championships.
Team PNG will again be heavily dependent on Toea Wisil to bring home the Gold in the women's sprints. Multiple record holder in the jumps Rellie Kaputin will be backed up by fellow ENB athlete Annie Topal. Solomon Islander Sharon Firusia has been a class apart in the women's long-distance events in recent Pacific Games and will start clear favorite in the 5000m 10000m and half marathon. PNG’s best hopes for gold will be in the 1500m and 3000m steeplechase. One spot is yet to be filled in the individual women's 100m as well as the 200m and 400m. These will be filled nearer the time of the Games dependent on the current form of those athletes already selected for the relays, namely Miriam Peni, Letisha Pukaikia, Nancy Malamut and Shirley Vunatup. The PNG based members of the Athletics team are expected to leave Port Moresby on December 7 and return on 15TH. All PNG based team members and their coaches are expected to liaise with Head Coach Dior Lowry concerning their participation in the PNG Games. Athletes must not run too many events at the PNG Games and leave themselves flat for the Pacific Games, said Secretary Philip Rehder.