Ipswich runner in sizzling form
IPSWICH Girls' Grammar School student Miriam Peni led a record-breaking group of regional athletes at the Oceania championships in Cairns.
Peni, who trains with Vic Pascoe at the Ipswich and District Athletic Club, won two gold and a bronze representing Papua New Guinea in under-18 and open competition.
"She was brilliant,'' said Pascoe, who attended the championships to watch his rising athlete run.
Two other Ipswich-based sprinters - Johnathon Taylor and Katie Colebourne - were part of Australia's gold medal success.
Taylor, 17, won a relay gold and silver medals in his under-18 100m (11 seconds) and 200m (21.95s) events.
The St Edmund's College year 12 student and former Ipswich and District Athletic Club sprinter ran the second leg in the national relay team that broke the Oceania record.
The experience assisted Taylor as he prepares for his next Australian mission at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in September - see separate story.
Colebourne, 16, recovered from a disappointing run in her under-18 100m final to share in the Australian youth team's 4x100m relay gold.
Colebourne ran the last leg of the relay, in which the Aussie team broke the Oceania record.
"She went from a big low to a nice high,'' her mum Janette said.
"She was happy with that.''
The Oceania championships also provided valuable national environment experience for the Springfield athlete who is with the Goodna Little Athletics club and trains at the University of Queensland with Taylor.
For Peni, who turns 16 next month, it was a magnificent three days of competition.
She started with a bronze medal in the under-18 100m (12.43), finishing behind two older competitors.
She collected her first gold in the open women's 4x100m relay where she ran the last leg, also against more seasoned athletes.
Peni was the youngest member of the PNG team, which set the second fastest time at international level by that country.
After a fourth in the under-18 200m final in a personal best 25.21s, Peni produced her leading performance in unexpected circumstances. She was called into PNG's 4x400m open relay team after another athlete was injured.
Peni ran a superb final leg to withstand a late charge from the Aussie runner to win another gold.
"It was amazing to watch,'' Pascoe said.
"When she took the baton she was probably 20 odd metres or more in front.
"The Australian team girl, about 24 years of age, looked like going past her at the 120 mark and then Miriam just turned on the turbos and won by about six metres.''
Pascoe was thrilled with her efforts after some heavy training.
"In her races, she did well above my expectations,'' he said. "She really improved.''
That recent training with Pascoe included sessions with Ipswich sprinter Larissa Chambers.
The extra effort helped sharpen up Peni's finishing.