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Team Oro_2020 Grand Prix.jpg

A stepping stone for Oro athletes


BY Nathan WOTI            SportsTok Magazine | Issue #95, JULY 2021


The 2021 Papua New Guinea Athletics Grand Prix, saw athletes from around the country compete in the two days athletics event sponsored by an airline service provider, PNG Air.
The event was staged at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby from the June 27th -28th.
It was the first time ever to see a whole line up of young people competing at a national event. However, the level of competition, performance and athletics aiming to take down national records, were evident throughout the event.   
Athletes took part in open men and women track events; 100 meter, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, including 400 meter hurdles. Other events were; men and women triple and long jump, open shotput, discus, javelin, and high jump.   
Although the event did featured some of the top athletes in the country in the likes of George Yamak, Jakie Trevetz (Hammer Throw), and De’Bona Paraka(Shotput), much of the field and track events were contested between youngsters along with few others current best in the likes of Eldan Toti, Emmanuel Aisi, and Lakona Gerega.  
Out of the provinces that came with fire power track and field athletes, team Oro province, however, brought in raw talents to the center stage of athletics. The members of the team were between the ages of 16-22 years old. Rachael Yaga, the team coach for team Oro, and a former athlete and PNG rep herself, mobilized the group under difficult circumstances of covid19 lockdown and no school just get the athletes to Port Moresby for them to participate in the Grand Prix and have a taste of national competition.  
While there were a lot of highlights throughout the two days athletics event, it was a spectacular moment for Jordan Konen and Andrew Hauje as both runners took to the starting lineup in the heat two of men’s 100m, lining up some of the most exceptional runners in the last two years in the likes of Emmanuel Anis (PNG Games gold medalist), Pais Wisil, and Linus Kuravi.
Teams from each provinces selected their best up against the best from other centers. With team East New Britain, NCD, Morobe and Goroka—represented by National Sports Institute athletes, putting up strong challenge against themselves, it was team Popondetta that stood out to be the most improved team at the Grand Prix.
According to their coach, the 2021 Grand Prix was a huge boost for them as the athletes did not undergo proper training prior to the game in Port Moresby.


Oro long distance female athletes.jpg

“It was a learning experience for the team”, the coach said. “My athletes haven’t competed back home in Popondetta due to covid19. Plus the closure of most schools in the province, which resulted in no competition, which meant that we didn’t have enough competition,  especially high school carnivals, where most of the athletes are selected from”, Yaga said.All six runners did well throughout the two days event. In the women’s 1500m, Yolandy Sinuga, put on an average to finish second last, but she manage to improve her personal best. And in the men’s 800m, Billy Laurahoi, and Daniel Kerehu, ran their own best times as well, finishing 7th and 8th. And in the open men’s 100m, Jordan Konen and Andrew Houje, despite lining up against a stacked 100m sprinters, both Konen and Houje pushed themselves to stay in the race and finished it off by a close time. Both of them scored timings within the 12 seconds mark.Athletics Oro was establish in 2009, with the students from Popondetta Secondary School being the first one. Since then Athletics Oro has been sending in quite a fair number of athletes into the national selection committee, which about three of them have already made the national team.Coach Yaga said although they haven’t participate in the recent national competitions, they are happy to be back in the stage and meeting athletes from other provinces as well.“The last few years we couldn’t make it to any nationals [completions] because of situation beyond our control.“We normally have district games and we do selection there for the nationals, but events in the province were cancelled due to covid19, and also due to the fact that we don’t have access to quality facility to train our athletes”, said Yaga.Yaga said it is an eye-opener for her athletes as this is their first time coming out to Port Moresby and she says she hopes they can find inspiration in that and work hard for the next games.The coach told the Sportstok Magazine that most of the athletes that represented team Oro are students from Mata Secondary School in Popondetta. It was their first time flying out on a plane to the nation’s capital, whjich Yaga said they will cherish that experience.Yaga thanked PNG Air and the Athletics PNG committees for their support and partnership which is reviving the sport of athletics.“We [team Oro] will take this as a stepping stone and go back and work on the next national championship. And I want to thank PNG Athletics Committees, Mr Tony Green and his boards, and a special thank you to PNG Air for transporting all the athletes, but importantly playing a major role in partnership to revive the sport of athletics”, Team Oro coach, Yaga, added.

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