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Following the Legacy

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

We have heard the name 'Wisil' before. A name which need no introduction when it comes to sport in the country, especially in the the athletics. It is one of the legendary names among others like Tuna, Stone, Pulu, Wartovo, and Babo.

First to introduce this name onto the national sporting arena is Kopun Wisil, who is the elder brother of Pacific sprint Queen Toea and upcomingtrack speedster Pais Wisil.

Kopun, an alltime legend in his own right was the first to put out the name Wisil when he started rnning for PNG in the early 2000. But it was not that popular until Toea Wisil stepped on to the track. That was  when name really start gain popularity. Highly regarded as the "Pacific Track Queen", Toea brought significance to the name, and hence, arching their family's in the history books of sports in the country as well as the greatness of herself and Kopun. 
In the code of athletics in PNG, the name Wisil is synonymous to speed and winning. The country has witnessed the sibling sprint sensations at their very best when they would easily glide through the finishing line without any effort while comfortably winning racers in their sleeps. While Kopun was a regular in any 100 meter dash, Toea on the other hand had it tough. She came in when there was already a pretty good line up of representative female sprinters in the likes of Mae Koime, Betty Baru and Sharon Kwarula to name a few. However, Toea made her way up the ladder while smashing all the records in her path and went all the way to become the greatest female sprinter of alltime. 
Both siblings have made their mark in the sport of athletics and are currently recognized for the records which they have set and numerous medals that they had won for PNG.

Now with Kopun switching to rugby league and suiting into the role of an assistance coach to one of the semi-professional competition club, and Toea still having a few competitions under her belt, it is certain that the time has come for the siblings to hang up their trackers.      


However, as the sun sets on Kopun and Toea, along with their illustrious careers, it rises with another Wisil. This time it is 20 year old, Pais Wisil, who will be carrying forth the legacy of his siblings. Pais is currently making a name for himself in the 100 meter and 200m track events. He is the third born in the family, after Toea, and he is a 100 meter sprinter.

The 20 year old tlives and trains at the National Sports Institute (NSI) up in Goroka where some of the county’s best like Peter Pulu, George Bai, and Sabul Babo had once pass through there.

Although Pais is just starting off his career, he follows a very giant footsteps left behind by his brother, Kopun, and and his big sister, Toea.

In an interview with the SportsTok Magazine, Pais said that coming out of the shadow of his siblings and standup for himself was the best decision he did which had really turned his career around.

“Obviously there is a lot of pressure there [to perform] becase people know about my siblings and the expectations can sometimes become overwehlming”, the 20 year old said .

“But I'd like to think that I am running my own race in my own lane so that I am not distracted and putting pressure on myself”, Pais said .

Like any other family, you instantly drawn to what your parents do, or your older siblings do, Pais first came to love the sport through his siblings.

When he was growing up everyone in his community would always talk about Kopun and Toea. That drew Pais into athletics, becase he wanted to be like his siblings. But the 20 year old said that it was tough to become the best like his siblings. There were times where he felt like he would never reach their level. However, as he began to focus on accepting himself and work on his own mistakes rather than tryong to beat his siblings' record, that was when the results started coming in for him.  “At first it was about them because I look up to them, I still do even now, but when I come to realize that I was doing it to just follow my family trend and not focusing on my own dream, I guess that changed me a bit".

"As I started to get into it and winning my own racers people started to notice that I too can run fast", he added.

Pais said he suprised himself when he won one of his first race back in Minj, in Jiwaka. He cold not believe that he he could rn that fast. Fast foward to 2019 PNG Games in West New Britain, Pais ran a personal best time and grabbed his first medal. He came in third place after Leroy Kaumu (2nd) and Emmanuel Anis (1st).

Pais has incredible starting time reaction compared to the current champion Emmanuel Anis and upcoming track superstar Leroy Kaumu, he says he lacks consistency in the last 30 meters and that is something that he is working on to improve.The athletics community are so fortunate to live to see three siblings competing at the very highest level in the same decade. It is about time Pais gets a call up to represent PNG like his brother and sister who ran and won medals for PNG. A truly remarkable feat which we might not see in another decade or so. Pais is now well and truly in shape to represent PNG in the upcoming Pacific Games. With the time of 10.7 seconds which he clocked on November 26th at the PNG Air Grand Prix in Kimbe, West New Britain, that puts Pais up there with Emmanuel Anis and Leroy Kamau as the favorites to represent PNG in the sport of athletics.

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