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Hard Target

By JOEL PURI                      SportsTok Magazine | Issue 90 FEBRUARY 2021       

Papua New Guinea's javelin record holder Lakona Gerega still has what it takes to lead the up and coming javelin talents in the event.
This lad is working tirelessly to make a streak on his own standing record to be able to compete at the international levels again.
It is not an easy task to be a leader in an esteemed arena, however, it requires effort, focus and always hard work that pays off in the end.
Lakona had begun his juvelin journey at Ianu High School during the Physical Education period at Cloudy Bay in Abau District, Central Province in 2013.
The sport was seen as merely throwing a spear and was made fun of then, but it gradually came to handy when Lakona got the hang of it.
Lakona made some startling throws during the PE sessions at the high school that affirm him to secure a spot at the District Games and eventually got into the Provincial Games later that year.
Lakona debuted at PNG Games in Lae, Morobe Province in 2014, but didn’t make any good throws as he was nervous while performing at such level for the first time.
“All my throws at PNG Games were disqualified,” he said.
He went home after that and was never really thinking of going back to the field, but then curiosity drove him out to train harder again until he gained confidence.
The Central lad gained confidence and build momentum when taking training seriously and certainly generated more energy that pushed him to eclipse the then 58.62m standing record of Albert Momberger in 1991 with his new record of 58.67m in 2017 at the Southern Region Championship in Port Moresby.
That throw caught the attention of Coach Paul Bannister which convinced him to take Lakona on board as his athlete for training.
Lakona attended PNG Games in Kimbe later that year under Coach Paul Bannister and by chance won a Bronze for the first time and was also selected to train in Goroka as a member of team PNG.
That was a bonus for the lad and he slowly started to realize his potential and had a clear goal for himself as a person and PNG as a country.
“From there, I went to Australia as a PNG athlete to prepare for my first international game at the Oceania Championship in Townsville, Australia measuring my first international throw at 64.89m in 2019,” he said.
Later that year, he appeared at the Samoa Pacific Games and won Bronze.
“I was happy after winning Bronze at the Pacific Games in Samoa and continued training and awaited for further games in 2020, but due to the Covid-19 all athletes were laid off from training,” he said.
However, the PNG Air National Athletics Championship held at the Sir John Guise Stadium on December, 2020 was really a booster for him and all other athletes.
Athletes prepared for only three months before the championships meet, but it was a booster and morale lifting for many after coming back from the lock downs.
Lakona normally stays in the village and travels to Port Moresby whenever he has training scheduleds with his coach.
“Travelling from the village to the big city for training is costly, but I do it with passion for the sport and certainly gives my best at every attempts of the javelin that I throw” he said.
Central lad has a Bronze to his name at the last Pacific Games and believes in himself for the coming Pacific Games to challenge the Fiji golden boy Walisen Futuna who took out Gold in the last Pacific Games with 62.00m.
“My best record is 64.89m, but due to bad weather then, I lost grip and regretted.
I’m really working harder this time to increase accuracy, speed and energy to get a chance of snatching Gold this time,” he said.
Lakona gave his best in every attempts of his javelin throwing at the recent national athletics championship with some good throws reaching beyond 60m, but still faceing the challenge to beat his best and looks forward to improve on that.
He does not see a competition with other athletes, but aims to challenge his own best as it is a hard target practice for him to advance.

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