BY JOHN PANGKATANA
From the picturesque isles of Duke of York to Apia, Samoa.
That’s a huge jump from the vastly rural island life to the biggest sporting arena in the South Pacific.
That’s what’s in store for exciting unknown 15 year old Monica Kalua, who hails from Milmila, Duke of York in the East New Britain province.
Kalua was this week named amongst a strong Papua New Guinea track and field team that will be looking to again to finish off the backend of the Pacific Games with a truck-load of gold medals to ensure Team PNG defends its 2015 performance in Port Moresby. She has been named in the middle and long distance team.
When Pacific sprint queen Toea Wisil did PNG proud to defend her 100m dominance at the Sir John Guise Stadium, ginger haired Kalua was more interested in diving off a reef after finishing school at the local Kabian Primary School as a sprightly 11 year old.
For this Tolai teen…this is what dreams are made of. She is a raw as they come after only being noticed during an a regional trials meet in Kimbe when she competed in the 5000m last year and with further training at the National Sports Institute (NSI) in Goroka under Athletics PNG development officers, Kalua will be packing what little she has to see the world.
This will be the ride of her life, a far cry from the usual 30 minute dinghy ride to Kokopo.
Interesting to note that she came second to current top runner Poro Gahekave.
Currently based at the NSI, Kalua said she had to withdraw from school to make way for this major change in her little world, but says her family supports it and she says so far it has been roller coast ride of sorts having to adjust to live and train at the NSI, while her friends back home get to enjoy a swim in the sun daily in their backyard.
“So far I’m getting used to the place (Goroka) and I feel at home with my new athletics family.”
Just turning 15 on March 6, Kalua says her dream ride is attributed to the commitment of her local coach Kevin Kapmatana and hopes to do her country proud especially for her parents and friends back home on beautiful DOY.
Athletics final squad
for the Pacific Games:
Toea Wisil, Leonie Beu, Adrine Monagi, Annie Topal, (plus 1 more for 4X100m), Donna Koniel, Isilia Apkup, Edna Erick (sprints and relays), Poro Gahekave, Jenny Albert, Donna Konial, Lyanne Tibu, Mary Tenge, Monica Kalua (middle and long distance), Adrine Monagi, Donna Konial, Raylyne Kanam (hurdles), Rellie Kaputin, Annie Topal, Sharon Toako, Jacqueline Travertz (jumps and throws).
Michael Penny, Linus Kuravi, Thoa Ora, Manoka John, Terrence Talio, Nazmie Lee Marai, Theo Piniau, Emmanuel Wanga, Benjamin Aliel, Shadrach Tansi, Ephraim Lerkin (sprints and relays), George Yamak, Kamaniel Matlaun, Martin Orovo, Andipas Georasi, Siune Kagl, Sapolai Yao, Messach Fred, Simbai Kasper, James Kuadua, (middle and long distance), Cletus Mosi, Daniel Baul, Ephraim Lerkin, Mowen Boino (hurdles), Roland Hure, Eldon Toti, Penial Richard, Cletus Mosi, Karo Iga, Debono Paraka, Lakona Gerega (jumps, throws and multi events).
Para – male
Steven Abraham – 100m T46
Elias Larry – 100m T47
Morea Mararos – shot-put F34