FLAGGING SUCCESS: Ipswich sprinter Miriam Peni, representing PNG, with her coach Vic Pascoe at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
FLAGGING SUCCESS: Ipswich sprinter Miriam Peni, representing PNG, with her coach Vic Pascoe at the Commonwealth Youth Games. Contributed

Coach flies in to help Peni excel at Commonwealth level

VIC Pascoe is so committed to his athletes, he often pays his own way to watch and encourage them at international meets.

The recent Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa was his latest quest.

However, when his charges like sprinter Miriam Peni perform so well, the added financial commitment is worth every cent.

"She did something a lot of athletes can't do,'' Pascoe said proud of the Ipswich club achiever and Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student.

"That is improve from heat to semi-final to final on both races (100m and 200m).

"Each race she improved and to finish up with a PB on her last event is absolutely amazing.''

Peni ran third in her heat with a time of 12.53 in the 100m to automatically qualify for the semi-finals.

In the semi-final, she finished fourth in 12.40 to qualify seventh fastest time for the 100m final.

That's where Peni showed her class.

She ran sixth in the final with a season best of 12.38s.

"It was an excellent outcome as there were two hours between each race,'' Pascoe said.

The next day Peni ran fourth in the 200m heat to qualify for the semi-finals with the eight fastest time of 25.40.

The following day at 8.30am, she came fourth in the semi-final, to again reach the final. Her semi time of 25.21 was seventh fastest and an equal personal best.

Two hours later, she achieved another personal best (25.19) in finishing sixth in the final.

Her consistent sprinting gave Peni a rank of sixth in the Commonwealth for runners aged 16-17 years.

Peni, 16, was representing her country of birth Papua New Guinea at her first Commonwealth Youth Games.

As her coach, Pascoe decided to fund the trip out of his own pocket after also recently travelling to Port Moreby to watch her at the Pacific Games.

He could only meet Peni outside the official boundaries on that occasion.

This time he secured coaching accreditation to help with Peni's warm-up and be part of the team.

That provided another bonus for Ipswich's coaching supremo. He got to join Peni and the PNG team in the opening and closing ceremonies.

"It was a wonderful experience to travel to Apia, Samoa to see the running of the fifth Commonwealth Youth Games and see almost 1000 athletes compete in nine sports,'' Pascoe said.

"The culture over there is absolutely amazing.

"I've never seen 1000 people in the middle on the closing ceremony doing their dances. It was amazing to see.''

After her success in Samoa, Peni will return to IGGS for school carnivals before preparing for the Queensland Secondary School track and field championships in Brisbane from October 22-25.

She's expected to focus on the 100m and 200m.

"It will be a big confidence booster,'' Pascoe said.

"She's training hard with Larissa (Chambers).

"Both are good training partners for each other.''

And at training and during competition, Ipswich's fanatical athletics coach Pascoe won't be far away.