More PNG sporting legends inducted to Hall of Fame

Raki Leka, Naomi Polum, John Kokinai and Oe Ivaharia were inducted into the Papua New Guinea Sports Hall of Fame this week in Port Moresby.

The four, who hail from different disciplines in the sport of athletics, were given the honour for their achievements and contribution to sports in Papua New Guinea.

They were dominant figures in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region in the 1960s to the 1970s era and graced the sporting arena with their brilliance.

Kokinai and Ivaharia have passed on but were represented at the induction ceremony by family members who shared insights on their lives and career.

Kokinai, from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, competed in long distance track events while Ivaharia, from the Gulf province, still holds the PNG national record in javelin.

All-rounder Raki Leka was a multi-talented athlete who participated in a number of events but specialised in the decathlon.

The only woman in the group, Naomi Polum, was a sprint sensation on the track whose name still echoes in the athletics circles in PNG and the Pacific region.

President of the PNG Olympic Committee, Sir John Dawanincura, said while they excelled on the sporting arena, their triumph was a national victory that inspired a growing nation.

“The Papua New Guinea Sports Hall of Fame recognises and honours these champions and the part they played in our country’s history.

“Their contribution to this country through their sporting achievements deserves a lifetime recognition which shall echo their legacy for generations,” said Sir John.

Leka, Polum, Kokinai and Ivaharia join other PNG Sports Hall of Famers, Sir John Kaputin, Edward Laboran, Nigel Cluer, Jackson and David Seeto, Salitia Pipit and Tumat Sogolik as sporting immortals.

Troy Taule