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PNG’S sprint queen Toea Wisil becomes the fifth member from the country’s track team nominated to be the flag bearer at the 2012 London Olympics.
The barefoot lass plucked from the 2003 grassroots Olympics held in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, and the once shy girl from Banz, Jiwaka is now dubbed the Pacific track queen having a clean sweep of the sprint events 100m, 200m, 400m and a member of the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay at the recent Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia – hauling in five gold medals denting Fiji’s dominance.
In May, Wisil was named again “SP Sports Award female athlete of the Year” for that outstanding performance in Noumea.
In a space of under 10 years, Wisil has achieved a lot having been the first Papua New Guinean to reach the 100m finals of the Commonwealth Games and missing out on medal at Delhi, India two years ago.
The Jiwaka lass finished fourth to continue her impressive form at the track creating history for the country and is set for her first ever Olympics.
Since the 1976 Games in Montreal, Wavala Kali became the country’s first flag bearer from the athletics followed by Iammo Launa at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, former sprinter Takele Tuna at the Seoul Games in 1988, Subul Babo in Atlanta in 1996 and Wisil the fifth from that sport.
The others were swimmer Xenia Peni at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, weightlifter Dika Toea at Athens in 2004 and the last games in Beijing was swimmer Ryan Pini.
Chef de Mission Syd Yates said it was hard to look past Wisil as flag bearer for Team PNG as her story epitomises the magic of how sport can transform lives.
Wisil has been training in Brisbane under the Olympics scholarship.
“Her determination and dedication to becoming the best she can be will be culminate in London when she represents PNG at the highest level possible for her athlete,” Yates, who is already in London, said.
PNG Athletics Union president Tony Green is expecting Wisil to perform at her best saying “Toea is clearly PNG’s top female athlete at the moment and with the recent performances she should be at her peak by the time she takes the track in the 100 metres”
Meanwhile, Team PNG Chef de Mission Syd Yates is in a calm and bouyant mood a day out from the London Olympics opening ceremony.
In a little over 24 hours London’s Olympic Stadium will be engulfed in a four-hour long opening extravaganza to mark the event’s 120th edition.
But listening to Yates, who spoke in glowing terms of the host city’s facilities, weather and food, you would think everything in the British capital was wired for Papua New Guinea’s benefit.
“Everything is fine. It was cooler last week but since most of the team arrived on Monday the weather has been very good,” Yates, who is at his second Olympics after travelling as an official to the Beijing Games in 2008, said.
“We’re getting sunny conditions in the British summer here with temperatures up around 29 deg during the day but cooling down to 15 deg at night.
“Our athletes are training well at the facilities here at the Games Village and all in all it’s very impressive.”
Yates said the with the arrival of taekwondo exponent Theresa Tona and coach Andy Rutten on Tuesday from a competition in Germany the contingent was only waiting on weightlifters Dika Toua and Steven Kari who were to arrive yesterday from the Oceania Weightlifting Federation facility in New Caledonia.
He added that while the general atmosphere was expectant the PNG team was soaking in the experience with all eight athletes training without any problems.
“We’re progressing well with training and preparations and with the village filling up the excitement is building.”
The Kina Finance CEO said Raymond Ovinou will be the first PNG athlete to compete with the Gulf man taking to the judo mat in the 66kg division on Saturday at 11pm (PNG time).
“Raymond will be our first athlete to compete and he’s in a division that has over 60 fighters competing in an elimination format so we wish him well.”
Ovinou arrived last month in England to begin his preparations and according to Yates is confident of holding his own against the world’s best.
Thirty minutes later Toua will line up for her fourth tilt in the women’s 53kg class.
For the 28-year-old Hanuabada lass, who has represented PNG at the last three Olympics, making London was an achievement in itself after coming off a two year lay-off and becoming a mother.
“Dika has put in a lot of effort over the past 12 months and making the team for her fourth Olympics is a great achievement itself, especially after being out for two years (2009- 2010) and starting a family,” Yates said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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