PNG's Kari focuses on gold
Papua New Guinea Weightlifting Federation president Sir John Dawanincura said with the Games Justification Committee to meet on February 27, Kari’s reluctance to train with his teammates could jeopardise his chances of making the final squad.
Despite the strong talk, Kari remains the country’s leading weightlifter and is expected to be included in the Pacific Games team.
Kari told The National at his home in Hanuabada yesterday that he was not letting the uncertainty affect his training.
“I have had enough of talking and I just want to concentrate on training for the Pacific Games,” Kari said.
The 21-year-old said he was following the same programme he used under coach Paul Coffa at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in Noumea, New Caledonia.
“I train twice a day for six days and I’m in good shape.”
Flanked by his uncle and Coach Douglas Mea, Kari said he did not want to dwell on what was being said in the media and preferred to concentrate on his training and show the PNG Weightlifting Federation and the PNG Olympic Committee that he was serious about the Games.
Dawanincura said even though Kari was training in his village he still needed to be monitored as was the case with the rest of the national squad lifters.
“Steven chooses not to be part of High Performance programme and that is making it difficult for us to monitor his training.
“It is his decision but we encourage him to part of the process,” Sir John said.
Kari was the centre of controversy after failing to return to the Oceania Weightlifting Institute at an agreed time requested by his mentor Coffa.
Kari said a misunderstanding between between Coffa, the PNG Weightlifting Federation and the PNG Olympic Committee (PNGOC) had resulted in him not returning to Noumea after the Commonwealth Games.
He said since he was not allowed to return to Noumea he would train on his own.
He said with the help of coach Mea, he was confident that he could win gold medal at home despite what Coffa had said earlier in the week.
“I am happy to stay back home and I am satisfied that I’m doing everything I can to prepare for Games,” he said.
As part of the preparations, all athletes in Team PNG are required to attend sessions at the High Performance Centre at 4-Mile but Kari not trained there since returning from Glasgow last July.
“Why should I go there when I have a coach and I’m doing my training here at the village.”
Dawanincura said even though Kari did not have access to high-level training, his willingness and attitude towards his private training would decide his fate in the national team.
The veteran sports administrator said the federation had a system in place and wanted Kari to be part of the plan.
He said it was now on Kari to show a willingness to join the rest of the train-on squad and be part of the team.