Sport: PNG aiming to kick-start Comm Games medal rush

11:42 am on 5 April 2018

Papua New Guinea is hoping to kick-start a gold-rush in weightlifting on the opening day of competition at the Commonwealth Games.

Morea Baru

Morea Baru Photo: PNG Olympic Committee

Dika Toua and Steven Kari won gold medals at the last games in Glasgow four years ago and Team PNG have set their sights even higher for the next five days of lifting on the Gold Coast.

Thelma Toua, who won gold at last year's Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu, is first to compete in the women's 53kg division this afternoon.

But Chef de Mission Tamzin Wardley said their "number one chance" was Morea Baru in the men's 62kg division later tonight.

"So fingers crossed. As many of the team as we can get will be there to cheer him on and because it's so close he's got family that's come down (from Papua New Guinea) for the first time," Warley said.

"So it's very exciting for the athletes, because it's so close that their families have been able to come down and watch. Their families saw them participate at the Pacific Games in Port Moresby (in 2015), which was incredible, but to actually be part of something like the Commonwealth Games and to be able to be there and watch is really exciting for them."

Team PNG had settled in well in the athlete's village and felt very much at home on the Gold Coast, Wardley said.

"It was a very strange feeling coming down because we didn't travel as a team because half of our team were already here," she said.

"Lots of our athletics squad do train on the Gold Coast, so it really is home for them so hopefully that really helps them. It takes away the strangeness of the competition venue and will help them perform."

Also in action for PNG on the opening day is Rachel James, the only Pacific athlete in the women's triathlon.