Amazing crowd in PNG medal victory
SURROUNDED by incredibly loud noise, Ipswich-based sprinter Miriam Peni did her home country Papua New Guinea proud.
She completed a successful Pacific Games experience with a silver medal in the 4x100m relay after coming fifth in the open 100m final in Port Moresby.
Given she's 16, the Ipswich and District Athletic Club runner and Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student has an exciting future.
That is likely to include representing PNG at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in September.
Waiting for final confirmation of her selection, Peni was enjoying a week off before getting back into full training with Ipswich coaching supremo Vic Pascoe.
"She ran an absolute blinder,'' Pascoe said of Peni's first leg effort in the relay.
"She set it up. They only got headed with 50 metres to go.''
The PNG team finished second in 46.27 seconds, behind winners Fiji (46.17s).
Pascoe was at the Pacific Games to watch Peni compete.
Unfortunately, he picked up a virus and couldn't speak face-to-face to Peni as much as he would have liked.
After Pascoe had a brief chat to Peni before her 100m heat, she won in style.
"She looked so good, so relaxed,'' he said.
Pascoe said the atmosphere in the Port Moresby stadium was amazing.
"The noise level is just unbelievable,'' Pascoe said.
"To win her heat, the crowd just went berserk.
"Speaking to a couple of the Queensland athletics officials, they said we would never see anything like that outside of going to Europe watching the Grand Prix Diamond events.''
However, still feeling ill, Pascoe stayed away from Peni before her 100m final run.
Watching the race, he noticed the teenager was feeling the pressure in her second international competition.
"She looked so nervous,'' Pascoe said.
"She ran well but I think she may have run better had she not been quite as nervous.''
However, Pascoe was proud of how she responded in the relay, having won two gold and a bronze medal in under-18 and open competition at the Oceania championships in May.
"It was a big thing for her,'' the ever-supportive Ipswich coach said.
"To make the women's final when she was basically the baby of the field and to run fifth was fabulous.
"I was extremely happy with her.''
Pascoe said she deserved a spot on the PNG team for the Commonwealth Youth Games.
Before that, she is also likely to run in the Ladies Gift handicap race at the annual Ipswich Winter Carnival at Limestone Park on August 30.
In other athletics news, Ipswich is hosting the state cross country championships at Limestone Park on August 1, starting at noon.
Club and school competitors can nominate online at the Queensland Athletics website.