Aliel Leaves for Iowa
Benjamin Aliel flew out to Des Moines, Iowa at the weekend to take up his Oceania Australia Foundation Scholarship at Southwestern Community College Iowa. Aliel, the 400m gold medallist at both the PNG Games and Pacific Mini Games last year was recently awarded a two-year scholarship by the Foundation along with Fiji’s young sprinter Elanani Tinai. Previous PNG beneficiaries of Oceania Foundation Scholarships have been Sharon Kwarula, Wala Gime, Cecilia Kumalalamene, John Rivan and Theo Piniau. Athletics PNG currently has 12 of its athletes in USA Colleges, including Theo Piniau who quietly returned to Texas over the weekend to resume his studies at West Texas A&M University after a two-year break. Aliel is of mixed Oro and East New Britain parentage and was brought up in ENB where he graduated from Malabunga Secondary School in 2014. His running qualities were recognised by APNG in 2014 but with strong competition for places in the national team for the 2015 Games he had to wait for the opportunity to represent his country. After two years in Popondetta Aliel relocated to Lae early last year. Under training by Coach Allan Akia he produced a series of outstanding performances at the National Championships in Goroka, PNG Games in Kimbe and at the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu.