Distance Runners hit form in Lae
Athletics PNG’s middle and long distance squad are firing on all cylinders with the start of the Athletics competition just three weeks away. Some sensational times were recorded in Lae last weekend as the squad had their last competition before the Games. The tone was set on Saturday morning by Kaminiel Matlaun in the 800m as he recorded a 54 second first lap with VeherneyBabob and Kevin Kapmatana behind him, and went on to record a Pacific leading time of 1min 53.1 seconds. Babob did well to hang on and was recorded with a personal best 1min 54.9. The womens race started in similar fashion with Jenny Albert , Cecilia Kumalalamene and Tuna tine all reaching the bell in a very fast 64 secs and the three were still closely bunched at 150m to go. Albert surged to the front with Tine digging deep to hang on as Albert recorded a huge personal best of 2min 15.2 and Tine also recorded a personal best of 2min 15.8.
Sapolai Yao recorded the second best 3000m steeplechase of his long career (9min 30.9 secs) and teammate Skene Kiage clocked a personal best 9min 39.7. In the womens race Rama Kumilgo maintained the outstanding form she showed at the Oceania Championships as she finished well clear in 11min 15secs. However a resurgent PoroGahekave clocked her second best ever time to finish second in 11min 52 from Carolyn Mando and Maria Kuanduma. Gahekave pushed Miriam Goiye all the way in the 1500m as both athletes recorded personal best times with Goiye clocking 4min 46.3 secs and Gahekave 4:47.0.
George Yamak was also in fine form , winning the 1500m in 4min 05.7 secs with a 59.8sec last lap to overhaul Martin Orovo . Yamak’s devastating finishing kick was even more evident in the 3000m where he almost overhauled Kupsy Bisamo who had led by around 80m with one lap to go. Yao’s relentless pace was too strong for Bisamo in the 5000m as he surged away to win the race in 15min 38.9 from Bisamo 15min 52. Mary Kua ran an impressive personal best 18min 38secs in the womens 5000m.
The squad has now returned to the National Sports Institute in Goroka for its final week of training with coaches Peter Deane , Bernard Manau and Paul Komba. Manau thanked the NSI for its support over the last six months and said that the results show that this has been a hugely successful programme. PNG’s distance runners had not done that well at the Pacific Games in recent times and the athletes were determined to make a very strong showing this time.