New Star on the Horizon
PNG has discovered a new potential sprint star who has made significant improvement throughout 2014. She is 15-year-old Miriam Peni - living in Ipswich, Queensland with her family. Her mother comes from Vunamami Village and her father, Jack Peni hails from Nangananga Village – both in Kokopo District, East New Britain Province.
Miriam’s mother, Nola Peni (nee Bola) was a former National Junior Record holder in the Long Jump, with a performance of 5.51m, set at the National Championships in Lae in 1992. Miriam’s grandfather, Robert Bola, represented PNG in both the Long and Triple Jumps in the first South Pacific Games in Suva in 1963.
Robert Bola is from Matupit Island and is first cousin to both John Vuia (gold medal in the 4 x 100m Relay in the 1963 South Pacific Games) and long-time 100m National Record holder, Silas Tita. Robert also has strong connections with the family of Takale Tuna. It is no wonder that with such fine genetic and sporting heritage Miriam would be good at Athletics.
Miriamis talented in many sports(with Touch Rugby being one of her favourites)but without even being aware of her family’s sporting legacy, she chose to specialise in Athletics. We are glad that she did. In the years ahead PNG should benefit from her decision.
At the beginning of the year her personal best performances were -
100m 12.95 seconds
200m 26.71 seconds
Triple Jump 10.77m
Under the expert guidance of respected Queensland coach, Vic Pascoe, Miriam has regularly improved on these personal bests and at the time of writing she had improved on these performances to -
100m 12.30 seconds, to rank =9th on the PNG All Time Best Lists
200m 25.42 seconds to rank 13th on the PNG ATB Lists
Triple Jump 11.11m to now rank 5th on the PNG ATB Lists.
Miriam will turn 16 years old just weeks before the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby. For one who only made the decision in September 2013 to take the sport seriously she has come a long way in a short time.
In December Miriam will be part of the Queensland Team to the Australian Schools’ Championships in Adelaide. She has been selected for the 100m and relay duties.
At the conclusion of the Australian Schools’ Championships, Miriam, under the direction of Vic Pascoe, will embark on a new event - the 100m Hurdles. We look forward to following her development in this event over the next few years.
Miriam now stands a very good chance of being part of the PNG Team for the 2015 Pacific Games. She has been included in the Training Squad. As her times continue to improve, she is emerging as a potential finalist in the 100m and 200m events. With another eight months of coaching, competition and development, who can tell how far this talented young East New Britain athlete will go?
In early 2015 Miriam will join other members of the PNG Team at the Oceania Championships, to be held in Barlow Park, Cairns from 8th – 10th May. Prior to that she will be competing in the Australian Junior Athletics Championships to be held in Sydney on 11th – 15th March, and possibly the Australian Athletics Championships in Brisbane from the 26th – 29th March. Miriam has already qualified for the Open 100m and the Under 20 200m in the Australian Nationals.
2015 will be a busy year for Miriam as she juggles Year 10 studies with a very busy Athletics schedule. She has shown this year, however, that she is up to the task, and she will have much support from family, friends, her school (Ipswich Girls Grammar) and Athletics PNG.
We all look forward to seeing her eventually compete on her home soil in Papua New Guinea.
Special thanks to Bob Snow for this write up
Miriam Peni at training – photo courtesy of Vic Pascoe