Oceania Paralympic ‘High Performance Training’ kick started their program today at Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport (SINIS).

SINIS has been chosen by Oceania Paralympic Committee (OPC) to host the elite athletes and coaches from the six Pacific countries of Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands (SI).

Arriving from Australia, Project Coordinator of OPC, Chris Nunn explain that they are here this week to conduct camp for athletes with physical impairments in track and field.

“We are doing classification, we have powerlifting, table tennis and Archery. So we are pretty excited, it is a first time post-covid that we have had a chance for a big camp in the island areas. With the institute here, with the Pacific Games here, this is the ideal location for us to bring everybody together,” said Nunn.

Apart from the excitement and looking forward to the week’s program, one disappointing concern Nunn shares is that the World Para Athletics Organization has cancelled their ‘Classification’.

“So the disappointing thing is that we have done all this planning for track and field, we brought athletes in from PNG, Vanuatu, we got representatives from Samoa, Nauru, but unfortunately only last week, the World Para Athletics Organization has cancelled our ‘Classification’. ‘Classification’ although we have invested tens of thousands of dollars to get the athletes here, will no longer take place. We have two ‘classifiers’ here to look at the athletes, but they will not be registered for competitions at the international level,” said Nunn.

“We will have a regional level classification but not international, which means the athletes will not ‘yet’ be able to go to the World Championships and Athletics or next year’s Paralympic Games. So we are very frustrated by the processes that are in place for world Para athletics.

“They do not really understand, [from my view] on what happens in the islands and how difficult it is to transfer across the islands, the expenses involved, the Visas and everything else that we need if we want to go to Australia, which is where the classification is generally held. It is very difficult to make this happen.

“And then to be told about ten days out that we can no longer conduct the ‘classification’ is incredibly disappointing, but also incredibly expensive exercise on our part to bring people together for a camp.

“So it is not the outcome that we were hoping for, it is a stepping stone for future development of Para sport, but there is so much more that can be done from the international Paralympic Committee and for World Para athletics to ensure that the athletes in this region have better access to the international competition arena.”

Apart from that, OPC’s Project Coordinator said it is good to bring the athletes to train together.

“So the great thing is coming here, we have a look at the facilities. It is the first time I have seen this since my last visit. Last time I was here, this was a drawing on a piece of paper. Now it is a reality and this is fabulous, to see the space, to see all the athletes training together, it is rumination of what I had in the Australian Institute of Sport, where I work for many years,” said Nunn.

“Bringing the best athletes together, it breaths success because they talk to each other, they see other athletes trying, and it is just wonderful and that is why we want to expose our new Para athletes to this concept of training. And being able to work with other people, to work with the coaches on a regular basis. That is how they get progress and development.

“So our goal is not to make sure that we get medals when they compete, but it is to make sure that they keep improving. And eventually with that improvement we will see the results in the international scene, whether it be the Pacific Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships or the Paralympic Games. That is our goal to make sure that they keep on improving.”

Solomon Islands National Paralympic Committee (SINPC) President Nihal Seneviratne when welcoming the elite Para Coaches and athletes to the country today, advised them that when they return to their countries, they must develop their training learnt at SINIS for upcoming competitions.

Another partner in this program is the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the 'PacificAusSports program'. The Para athletes and coaches will engage in five days of training before a competition will be held on the final day, Saturday 25th March 2023. 

Source: SINIS Media