Seventeen-year-old Scholastica Herman, a Grade Nine student at Malahuna Technical Secondary in East New Britain won the women’s 1500m in 5 minutes, 10 seconds on Saturday afternoon and followed this up with an impressive run in the 3000m on Sunday.
The crowd was entertained to a fine race in the 3000m with early leader Mary Tenge being overhauled by both Herman and crowd favourite, the diminutive Dominica Kakapa from WNB in the closing stages.
Young Emmanuel Anis from East Sepik impressed in the open men’s 100m, clocking the second fastest time in the heats with a wind assisted 10.77 seconds. Tovetina Tuna of NCD, son of one of PNG’s most successful ever athletes – Takale Tuna – clocked a very impressive 11.01 seconds in the heats of the 100m on Saturday, also with a little wind assistance. However, conditions were not so favourable for the 100m finals in the afternoon after a heavy downpour and all the athletes posted slower times in the finals, including Toea Wisil, who clocked times of 11.76 and 12.01 respectively.
Some quality races were also seen in the open division with the men’s 200m the highlight. NSI based ENB athlete Michael Penny was a clear winner with an impressive 21.53 seconds with Shadrick Tansi (21.71) holding off David Guka for second place and both Daniel Baul (4th) and Linus Kuravi (5th) right behind them.
Pacific Games gold medallist Leonie Beu was also in good form, winning the 200m and 400m events and placing second to Toea Wisil in the 100m.
The highlight of the men’s middle and long distance events was Sunday’s 5000m with James Kuadua tracking Siune Kagl for most of the race – as he did on many occasions earlier this year – only for Kagl’s superior finishing speed to be the telling factor in the end.
In the field events, national record holder Lakona Geraga demonstrated his class in the javelin with a throw of 57.33m to win by over 10 metres from Samuel Pai of WNB.
The women’s field events did not attract a lot of competitors but the U18 and Open men’s jumps were keenly contested. New Irelander Moses Darius, currently based in WNB, won the men’s high jump with 1.85m with Kenneth Harrison of ENB coming out on top from a field of 14 in the U18 men’s long jump.
A total of around 300 athletes participated in the two-and-a-half day event, which kicked off on Friday afternoon after the opening ceremony, attended by both Governor Francis Maneke and Minister for State Enterprises, Sasindran Muthuvel. Both pledged their support to the development of the sport of athletics in the province.
Athletics PNG President, Tony Green, thanked the Local Organising Committee, headed by Nolene Pidik, for a fine job in hosting the event as well as Sponsors PNG Air, Lae Biscuit, Panamex, Guard Dog Security and PNG Sports Foundation.
The Championship brings down the curtain on what has been a long and very eventful season for PNG Athletics and the focus now switches to 2020 and the Melanesian Championships in June, preceded by various regional events and the PNG Games towards the end of the year.
(Women’s 200m finals)