Team PNG focuses on Tokyo Olympics

Team PNG is working to qualify athletes to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Twenty-five athletes are working hard to meet the qualifying standards set by the International Olympic Committee to participate in 13 sports.

Team PNG Chef de Mission Tamzin Wardley said: “The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of elite sports with only the best athletes from the 206 National Olympic Committees competing against each other in the 33 sports on the Tokyo 2020 program.”

With only 9 months to go until the Opening Ceremony on 24 July 2020 the PNG Olympic Committee is working with the National Federations of the athletes who are pursuing their Olympic dream and hoping to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Wardley said that for the most recent Olympic Games, Team PNG has had an average team size of 8 athletes.

“Our goal for Tokyo 2020 is to qualify up to five athletes on merit and have our first ever team qualify for an Olympics. Along with our athletes we also have a dream to win our first medal.”

“But it is a very long hard road to even qualify.  Each athlete has a qualification process unique to their sport.  For some the qualifying period started last year but most are right in the middle of the qualifying period now. The qualifying period continues until May 2020.”

She said in order to qualify athletes will need to attend the compulsory qualifying events both within our region and across the world and so there is a serious need to secure as much funding as possible to ensure they attend and compete in the crucial tournaments.

In addition to attending qualifying events, the athletes are hard at training.

Wardley said their commitment has been praiseworthy and justified the need to support their dreams.

The PNGOC is reaching out to corporate supporters and the Government to assist these athletes to achieve their qualifications.

“For some of our athletes it is yet one more year of ongoing competition as they compete on the world stage.  PNG’s top weightlifters, Dika Toua, Morea Baru and Steven Kari have to compete in 5 tournaments across the world, earning points, and even then only the top 14 in each weight category will get to compete in Tokyo.  Our number one tennis player Abigail Tere-Apisah must compete in the tennis pro-circuit and achieve a world top 300 ranking in order to even try to qualify,” she said.

“For others it’s a matter of competing, and succeeding, in their respective World or Oceania Championships and these are being held as far away as Paris and China and for only some lucky athletes in neighbouring Australia.”

PNG has 12 sports still trying to qualify individual athletes, including athletics, boxing, judo, karate, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon and weightlifting, and our rugby 7s teams have the daunting task of beating regional powerhouses of Fiji and Samoa at the upcoming qualifying event in host country, Fiji.

Wardley confirmed our athletes are based across the world training with 2 weightlifters in Noumea, our swimmers and tennis athlete based in Australia, our rising table tennis athlete, Geoffrey Loi back in China, and the rest travelling, as funds permit, to compete in the required competitions.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will take place from July 24 – August 9, 2020.

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