DISASTROUS TRIP

… Federation Failures Exposed at Oceania Championship

BY ELTON LONARATHA JNR

NATIONAL athletics athletes have described their recent trip to the Oceania Athletics Championship in Fiji as disastrous, highlighting the need for better organization and support from the federation. Female sprinter Jovita Ambrose Arunia voiced concerns about the federation’s shortcomings, which she said adversely affected the athletes’ performance.

Before the Oceania Athletics Championship 2024 began in Laucala last week, Arunia departed early to attend a leadership course organized by Oceania. Following Arunia, Julian Sosimo competed on the first day of the Championship on June 1st, while the rest of the team left Honiara on the same day Sosimo competed in the Women’s Heptathlon Pole Vault event.

Arunia expressed that the trip was poorly organized and that the team lacked adequate support. “I departed for Fiji to attend a Wellbeing and Leadership course. After completing the course and receiving my certificate, I went to the game venue only to find that we didn’t have a coach to accompany our first representative, Sosimo. I had to take up the leadership role to guide and prepare Sosimo with her warm-up drills for her Heptathlon event because the coach had not yet arrived,” Arunia said.

She added that assuming the coaching role was challenging as she was also competing on the same day. “I failed to finish my race with good timings because there was no proper preparation back home. Our coaches failed to turn up during training days. Additionally, the federation has yet to resolve its issue with the National Sports Council (NSC), affecting our preparations for the Championship,” she explained.

Many athletes are unhappy with the federation’s failure to pay its affiliation fee with the NSC, which has impacted their preparation for regional and international competitions. Arunia emphasized that most athletes feel neglected and that the federation is not taking their preparation seriously.

Despite these setbacks, Athletics coach Korinihona told SunSPORTS he was proud of the athletes’ performances and results at the Championship. “I’m satisfied with the results of the athletes during the Oceania Athletics Championship 2024 in Fiji. It was a tough Championship, especially for teams like Australia and New Zealand, due to the strong headwind conditions at Laucala, making it difficult to achieve qualifying times for the Paris Summer Olympics this year,” coach Korinihona said.

He added, “Regardless of the challenges, the athletes delivered their best, and it’s a good build-up for the Palau Games next year, which is 12 months away.”

Arunia noted that the federation must take the athletes’ concerns seriously to improve future performances. “The federation needs to step up for the sake of the athletes. Proper preparation and support are crucial for us to compete effectively in such important events,” she said.

The athletes’ experiences underscore the importance of organizational support in sports. With improved coordination and attention to athletes’ needs, the federation can help ensure that future competitions are more successful and less stressful for all involved.

As the team looks ahead to the Palau Games next year, the focus will be on building on the lessons learned from this experience. Ensuring that the athletes have the necessary support and preparation will be key to achieving better results and fostering a more positive environment for their development and performance.

Team Athletics returned home safely on Sunday with promising results. Highlights included:

-Luke Haga achieved a Season Best (SB) of 11:48 in the men’s 100M and 22:92 in the men’s 200M.

-Smith Sepoka registered two Personal Bests (PB), clocking 11:52 in the men’s 100M and 23:31 in the men’s 200M.

-Jovita Ambrose earned a Season Best of 13:13 in the Women’s 100M.

-Stephen Rahuasi completed his events with a PB and SB, clocking 4:07:77 in the men’s 1500M and 1:54:92 in the men’s 800M.

-Julian Sosimo earned Bronze in the Pole Vault.

-Long-distance runners Martin Faeni and Diana Matakali secured Gold in the 10,000KM road race.

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