Kari leads Team PNG home

Gold medallist Steven Kari led the last batch of Team PNG athletes and officials out this afternoon to a rousing welcome.

Sponsors, friends and family all gathered at the airport as early as 12pm to receive them.

There was dancing, singing and plenty of emotion shown by the people of Hanuabada, who turned up in truckloads.

There was an immense feeling of pride when Kari, flanked by silver medallists Dika Toua and Morea Baru, walked out of the Paradise lounge waving and holding their medals up high.

“Firstly, I want to thank God for giving me another gold medal for PNG and for my family,” said Kari.

“I want to thank the people of PNG for always supporting me and I thank Trukai, our major sponsors, for always helping us.

“Being the first PNG male weightlifter to defend my title is something I’m very proud of.”

Asked how it felt to break the 17-year-old clean and jerk Commonwealth record, Kari responded: “A record is a record. But my mind was always on gold. After the gold, I went for the record and did it in one lift. I’m so happy.”

Outside the airport waiting were hundreds more who cheered on the convoy of vehicles headed for Hanuabada for what is sure to be an even bigger reception.

The rest of Team PNG also arrived earlier today. The official welcome for Team PNG will be held tonight at The Gold Club, Arena, Lamana Hotel, and will start at 6:30pm.

Troy Taule