BY ROMULUS HUTA
FIVE of the athletes representing Solomon Islands in the Melanesian Athletics Championship which will get underway in Vanuatu this week will compete for spots in this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
The Melanesian Athletics Championship will begin today in Port Vila and conclude on Friday.
Solomon Islands will be represented by a total of nine athletes were five of them are all under-18 representatives.
The competition for the under-18 category of the Melanesian Championship serves a qualifier for the Youth Olympic Games due to take place in Argentina in October.
The five youth reps are sprinters Esther Haga and Ronward Hinarua; middle distance runner Esther Vilivata and long distance runners Rickson Roremae and Peterson Bako Junior.
The five youngsters left with the rest of the Solomon Islands athletics team members on Monday which also includes four others namely Sharon Firisua, Diane Matekali, Jimmy Kumuhula and Ben Sale.
Kumuhula and Sale are also youth participants but their age does not fall below under-18 and therefore rules them out of the YOG qualifiers.
The duo will instead compete in the open category.
President of Athletic Solomons James Iroga said the team is dominated by youths.
“The idea is to groom them for future international competitions and so as participate in the qualifiers for the YOG.
“We are focusing on providing international experience to promising new athletes whom we are targeting for next year’s Pacific Games in Samoa.
“Looking towards Samoa we have to identify the weaknesses in our squad and target athletes who can strengthen our team in those areas,” the former national decathlon rep told SunSPORTS last week.
The team will return on Thursday May 15.
The bi-annual competition involves athletes from countries in the Melanesian region including Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Norfolk Islands, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.