Despite returning without a medal this time round, the team was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this year’s Commonwealth Youth Games and have set higher future goals for themselves.
“The main purpose for Team PNG was to expose our young athletes to a higher level of competition and a multi-sport Games environment, and each of them achieved that which is a great building block for the future,” said Team PNG Chef de Mission, Michael Henao.
He said the opportunity gave them a high level Games experience which is a great build up for future senior events such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2019 Pacific Games and the 2020 Olympics.
Some of these young athletes will also have a chance to attend the Youth Olympic Games towards the end of 2018.
Meantime, the team finished the Games with swimmers, Ryan Maskelyne and Ebony Tkatchenko really strong in their events with Maskelyne posting a Personal Best in the 100m breaststroke heats, and going into the finals with the fifth fastest time.
Like her team mate, Tkatchenko, the youngest of Team PNG contingent, also missed out on a medal but drew much praise from her coach, Greg Fasala.
“She has so much potential,” he said.
Flag bearer, Mathew Stubbings’ aim of making a quarter finals finish in Tennis were dashed when he went down to his Indian opponent who was the number one ranked player in the tournament.
Combining with Patricia Apisah for the mixed doubles, they could not repeat PNG’s medal feat from the last Games but were still pleased with their efforts.
Sprinter, Lawrence Lamond ran the 200m dash and finished 7th in his heat with a time of 23.63 but it was not enough to get him into the semi-finals. His athletics teammate, Letisha Pukaikia, also ran the 200m and clocked 26.40 but her time too was not enough to get into the women’s semi-finals.
Beach volleyballers, Damien Aisi and Tonnie Gima played St Lucia for 7th place and won in two straight sets (21-8 and 21-9) to restore some pride. It was a grand finish for the two young men who, like the rest of the team, had been digging deep all week.
Henao congratulated the athletes on their efforts and encouraged them to use the experience to push them further in achieving their individual goals.
In transit on his way to Kimbe, young sprinter, Lamond summed it up by saying “it was an amazing experience and one I will never forget. I know the standard of my international competition and how much I need to improve. I’m going to work even harder now.”
Henao thanked sponsors for Team PNG and also appealed to the national government to provide funding for sports so that PNG can continue to excel at international events.