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Kauba Aims To Break 20 Years National Record

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

All athletes aspire to be great someday throughout their career or after when they retire from the sport they participate in. However, only a few, maybe handful, manage to reach their absoute best throghout their careers and in the process set new records for the next generation of athletes to try to beat.  
In Papua New Guinea, names like Peter Pulu, Neslon Stone and Toea Wisil all have a special place in the sport of athletics amongst other greats like Takale Tuna, Sabul Babo, Ezekiel Wartovo, Naomi Polum, and Mai Koime, just to name a few.  
Pulu, Stone, and Toea are, however, are in a league of their own. They have accomplished distinction in their sport throughout the course of their career. Among these three great athletes are seven national records, 4x Pacific records, 2x Oceania records. Only Koima holds the current record for 100m and 200m Oceania Championship.
Pulu is the undisputed king of tracks in athletics. He holds the record for the 60 meter (6.4 seconds) and the 100 meter (10.4 sec) as well. Pulu’s records have stood for well over two decades now. While Nelson Stone on the other hand owns the 200m and 400m national record. Stone’s 200 meter record was broken by Theo Piniau in 2015 Pacific Games, but his 400m time of 46.70 seconds which he clocked at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, still stands. And the only women in this list, Toea Wisil, arguably the greatest female sprinter in PNG and the Pacific holds the national and the Pacific records for 100m, 200m, 400m.
While these three remain the best of their respective events, one athlete, who has dominated his event for a very long time is Clement Abai. He holds the national record in 800m with an impressive time of 1 minute 48 seconds. Abbai clocked this time at a Division two National College Athletics Association Championship (NCAAC) in United States which the time was ranked fifth overall and was also annonced as a new national record for PNG back in 2002. Since then no one has ever broken this record for almost two decades.
Over the years, athletes have tried to reach or beat Abai's time but have failed along the way. Evan the current national number one ranked 800m runner Kaminiel Matlaun is just a few seconds away from closing in on Abai’s record time. In 2019 Matlaun clocked an impressive time of 1 minute 51 seconds. That is the only closes time to Abai’s national record. Even his 2014 Commonwealth Games time of 1 min 52 seconds is still ranked third. This begs the question, will we ever live to see this incredible feat be reached soon?
At the last year’s PNG Air Athletics Grand Prix, a 17 year old, Adolf Kauba, almost broke the national record with a jaw dropping 1 minute 59 seconds and climb into top ten along his two idols, Matlaun and Abai. Kauba’s time was just 11 seconds shy from Abai's national record time.  
Now, 18 year old, Kauba is putting his hand up to be the first one to take out the national record set by Abai in 2002.
The 18 year old said that he wants to dominate the 800m category as he aims to break the national record one day.
Adolf Kauba from East New Britain Province was seen easing through to the finishing line in the 800 meter finals at the 2021 PNG Air Athletics Grand Prix championship in Port Moresby on July. Although not his best time, he however clocked 2 seconds flat, which would rank him outside of top 60, and far from Abai and Matlaun’s timings.  
Still well outside of the top sixty 800 meter runners who have ran under two minutes, Adolf showed glimpse of what he could potentially become in the future with his running technique, breathing control at each turn, and his finishing pace.



In an interview with the SportsTok Magazine after the PNG Air Grand Prix, Kauba revealed why he choose to run in the 800 meter and how he is working towards breaking Abai’s 20 year old record. He also shared his story of his love for the sport of athletics, and what inspired him to take up athletics, and one athlete in particular, who he says inspired him to compete.  

Born and raised by subsistence farmers, Adolf Kauba was thought at an early age the importance of education and God. He held onto these two key principles which he said "have guided me ever since". Kauba tried playing every sports that he would come across. But his favorite sports growing up were Aussie Rules, rugby league and soccer was his favorite. It wasn’t until Kauba got accepted to study at Utmie Secondary School, which is an affiliate member of the Athletics PNG and one of the top academically performed school in the province.Kauba had always loved athletics. He would sit in front of the television whenever the Pacific Games, or the Commonwealth or Olympic Games would come on. Like most of us his favorite athlete was Usain Bolt, and his favorite event to watch was the sprints. He started developing interest in athletics at that point on.Few years later he had experienced his first ever athletics competition during an in-house school carnival. After that he got selected into the school team. Kauba represented his school and compete against other secondary school in an all schools carnivals that was when he got noticed by selectors. He competed in the 100 meter, 200m, 400m, and the 800 meter in the flat-track events.His biggest influence was Kaminiel Matlaun. They both are from the same area in Rabaul, and had similar lifestyle growing up, and by seeing Matlaun becoming a national rep and taking part in the international events, it inspired Kauba to try out athletics.“I used to admire athletes when I was little, Kaminiel Matlaun is one of my favorite because he is an eight hundred meter runner so I used to study him.“And when I got my first chance to run last year at the Grand Prix, I tried to use all the knowledge I learnt from studying Kaminiel and it worked. I think I ran better last year.His first representative race was in 2019, when he made his way into the East New Britain provincial team and took part in the PNG Games in West New Britain Province. At the time Kauba was a young 16 year old kid competing amongst some of the best athletes in the country. He ran alongside a stacked field of country’s top 800 meter runners. Kauba held his nerves has he calmly crossed the finish line.

“I am happy with my performance. My aim was to improve my PB [personal best] from last year which is 2:03:56 minutes and I did, so that’s a good thing”, Kauba said of his performance at the Grand Prix in Port Moresby.

Running a time like that at such a young age is simply remarkable. Kauba could possibly be on his way to become a top 800 meter runner. The 18 year old certainly believe so. During a post-race interview, Kauba said his aim is to be the best 800 meter runner in the country.From the takeoff mark to the first 100 meter, Kauba ran well under 13 seconds, which is a standard Olympic time. But it was the next 400 meters that indicated the brilliance of the 18 year old. He was seen using a breathing control technique which allowed him to stay 5 meters ahead of his peers. He then ran a 13.5 seconds in the last hundred meters to finish the race with a personal best of 2 minutes. Beating his last record of 2 minutes 3 seconds which he set last year at the 2020 Grand Prix.While the race itself was outstanding, the thing that caught the crowds was the fact that Kauba had held his lead from start to the finish line. An impressive feat by such a young aspiring athlete.

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