Six young athletes left for Port Vila today for their first overseas experience at the Melanesian Championships which run from Wednesday to Friday next week. The athletes are 100m and 200m sprinters Frederick Ageda (Pom)and Linus Kuravi (WNB); distance runners Gethru Komba and Mary Tenge (Simbu); middle distance runner Lyanne Tibu (ENB); and East Sepik athlete Isila Apkup who runs 400m. They represent the best of the young talent which emerged from the National Championships and PNG Games last year and are considered future representatives at the senior level, with many of them targeting the Pacific Games in Samoa next year. Veteran hurdler and Vanuatu resident Mowen Boino will also compete at the Championships and assist Team Manager Nabase Duaba.
Ageda was outstanding at the National Championships in Goroka last year, winning the 100m and 200m in the Under 18 division whereas Kuravi came to the fore at the PNG Games where he won gold in a very competitive mens 200m and also placed third in the 100m. Komba was dominant in the long distance events last year and her Simbu teammate Tenge impressed in both the 1500m and steeplechase events. Both are considered strong candidates for the PNG team to the Pacific Games next year. Lyanne Tibu showed great improvement in the 800m and 1500m events during the second half of 2017 and won the PNG Games 800m as well as placing third in the 1500m. Apkup first came to the attention of Athletics PNG at the 2014 PNG Games as 15 year old when she clocked an outstanding time of 61.83 seconds to place third behind Donna Koniel and Raylyne Kanam. At the 2017 Games in Kimbe, Apkup was the gold medallist in a time of 60.13secs and was drafted into the APNG development programme as a result.
Athletics PNG President Tony Green said that the team was to have been eight athletes, however, Letisha Pukaikia withdrew a couple of weeks ago after an injury setback and another athlete was dropped when it became apparent that his travel documents would not be ready in time. “The timing of the event is not ideal for us, coming so soon after the Pacific and Commonwealth Games, he added. It is time to take stock of where we are and focus on the domestic programme as we plan for the Games in Apia next year.”