Sport: Wisil-less PNG hang Commonwealth hopes on lifters

2:21 pm on 30 March 2018

The chef de mission of Papua New Guinea's Commonwealth Games team has expressed regret that sprint star Toea Wisil will not compete on the Gold Coast.

The 30-year-old was banned from the April Games by her own athletics federation for misconduct.

She was beaten into second place in the 200 metres at last year's Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu and did not attend the ceremony to accept the silver medal.

PNG's Toea Wisil won 100m gold in Port Vila.

Toea Wisil won 100m gold in Vanuatu but suffered a shock defeat in the 200m. Photo: Peter Carroll/Van 2017 Media

Chef de mission Tamzin Wardley said Wisil's absence is a loss for her younger teammates.

"We were very sad to hear that she wasn't going to be part of our team," she said.

"Obviously she's a major star in PNG sports and I've personally been watching her compete since she first started and she's a great member of the team.

"She inspires the younger athletes and wherever she goes she creates a media storm around her, particularly in the Pacific, so we were all very sad when she wasn't named as part of the team.

"At the end of the day she made a mistake and she's paid the price for that and we just really hope she bounces back faster and stronger from this. Sometimes a little bit of adversity is a good thing in training and life so I do hope we will see her back."

PNG is sending 56 athletes to Australia to compete in 10 of the 23 sports on offer over the next fortnight: athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rugby servens, shooting, squash, swimming, table tennis, triathlon and weightlifting.

PNG are bound for the Sevens World Cup, Commonwealth Games and World Series events in Sydney and Hamilton.

Rugby sevens is one of 10 sports Papua New Guinea will contest at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: Oceania Rugby

Tamzin Wardley said qualification was particularly challenging for PNG's athletes under the new quota system.

"The rules changed and this is the first time that a quota system has been in place for the Commonwealth Games," she said.

"Previously you were just able to send your best athletes across all the sports but now each country has a quota of athletes that they're allowed to take in individual sports, so the sports are actually competing against each other to get onto the team and then each team event has also had to go through a qualifying process over the last few months.

"It's been very challenging for the athletes so all 56 athletes have really earned their place on the team and we wish them all the best."

Lifting For Gold

Steven Kari and Dika Toua were gold medallists at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and Tamzin Wardley was expecting weightlifting to again be their best chance for medals success.

"Our teams all come from different levels of sport. Our weightlifters are certainly the most elite-level athletes that we have in our team," she said.

"Many of our team will be going just looking for personal bests, trying to make it into the semi finals and the finals, trying to be the best Pacific athletes in their field so everyone's got different targets but certainly our weightlifting squad - we've got two gold medal winners as part of our squad, with Steven Kari and Dika Toua.

"We've got three weightlifters (including Morea Baru) that we certainly hope will be competing for medals...what colour those medals are is up to them and obviously their opposition on the day but we're very very hopeful that all three will be there on the podium at the end of the day."

Steven Kari had a golden run in the 94kg category

Steven Kari is gunning for more Commonwealth Games gold. Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie