Sapolai Yao is the latest PNG track athlete to go to the United States for training and to further his education. One of the longest serving members of the PNG national athletic squad, Yao recently enrolled at Northern Iowa Area Community College on a two year programme studying human resources. He has also joined the track and cross country team. The programme is a private arrangement between Sapolai , the College and his sponsor, said Athletics PNG President Tony Green. “ Sapolai is getting some assistance from the College but its not a formal scholarship arrangement like the other athletes currently at Iowa Central”.
Yao is reported to have been made extremely welcome by his coach and team mates ; settled in very well and to be thoroughly enjoying his training. “This is cross country season and coach Curtis Vais is very happy with Sapolai’s progress, said Green. He has been improving with each race and everyone is looking forward to the Regional Championships at Marshaltown next month and the national Cross Country Championships at Ina , Illinois on November 10. Immediately following the cross country nationals, Yao will turn his attention to the National Junior College Half Marathon Championships at Levelland Texas on November 17
Athletics PNG currently has three of its athletes on scholarship at Iowa Central Community College, with Sharon Kwarula , Wala Gime and Cecilia Kumalalamene are now into their second year. “It is a two year programme and we hope to secure scholarships through the Oceania Foundation for more athletes commencing August 2013” said Green. Whether these three athletes remain in the US or return home will depend on whether each one independently can secure a scholarship to continue studying and competing for a further two years.