A karateka performing kata
A karateka performing kata. Picture from Wikipedia

The performance of our track athletes during the recent Pacific Games in Noumea cannot be denied. Their efforts and contribution to the gold tally upped our placing on the scoreboard. All thanks to the efforts of Tony “Green Arrow” Green (excuse the nickname but I find it highly appropriate for the post), who is probably responsible for the outstanding performance and scholarships our athletes are enjoying. The rest of the sporting body should take a cue from the Green Arrow and follow his lead.

Careful scrutiny of Team PNG will reveal that codes that had healthy exposure, clinics, workshops and active participation performed exceptionally well. The codes that did not…well, the results speak for it. An example would be the difference between track and karate. Although the two are not within the same sporting category, I am using them to illuminate a point.

The majority of star track athletes like Toea Wisil, Mowen Boino, Nelson Stone and Sharon Kwarule etc, are all privileged to be on scholarships overseas and were at their peak in mental and physical preparations – a world away from karate.

The karate team that went to Noumea found out that the rules had changed. The rules that they had rigorously trained for no longer applied. This created confusion which resulted in a few potential gold medallists withdrawing at the 11th hour. The others who showed true Budo spirit and fought could not adapt quickly to the change and as a result potential medals were lost.

Karate has not been active in the country for a few years. There have not been any coaching, clinics, o major events that involved participation from overseas experts. This, in my opinion, made our karatekas loose touch with the international sporting body and was not updated of the changes. The result was only one female karateka, Melisa Turia, managed to win gold. The rest did not succeed.

I am sure that if other codes had the kind of training, clinics, coaching and scholarships that athletics has, we would see an improvement in sporting codes and our gold potential would be significantly increased. It is now up to the responsible sporting bodies to actively foster the development of their codes in preparations for the next Pacific Games.