PNG out to defend mini games title

Papua New Guinea is determined to defend their Pacific Mini Games title this month, having topped the medal count in Wallis and Futuna four years ago.

93 athletes will compete for Team PNG across 10 sports in Vanuatu, including sprint queen Toea Wisil and Commonwealth Games weightlifting champion Steven Kari.

Chef de Mission Emma Waiwai said after hosting the 2015 Pacific Games, where they also topped the medal tally, there’s less pressure on Papua New Guinea, but still a strong desire to win.

“The important thing for us is coming here and trying to defend our title that we got four years ago,” Waiwai said.

“Not much pressure maybe but I think the athletes are still feeling it because those that won the medals in 2013 they have to come back.

“It would be good if they came back and also cemented their positions by winning those medals again or even bettering – those who got the bronzes and the silvers.”

PNG have not entered athletes in the football, rugby sevens, archery or judo events.

Emma Waiwai believed they still have a host of medal prospects.

“Definitely in athletics, definitely in the weightlifting, in boxing and they’ve introduced the 3-on-3 basketball and our teams did well at the Melanesian Cup just recently,” she said.

“That was 5 on 5 but they’ve got the best athletes from there so we look good in winning basketball as well – even netball because we don’t have Fiji and Samoa…but otherwise in all sports we still feel we’re going to pick up medals in them.”

Waiwai expected New Caledonia, Fiji and hosts Vanuatu to be their main rivals in Port Vila, with regular contenders Tahiti having opted to boycott the Games.

Source: RadioNZ