Oceania Australia Foundation Sponsored track and field athletes Benjamin Aliel and Roland Hure left for the United States on Thursday morning after a ten month interruption to their program brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Aliel was midway through his final semester last year when the sponsors who were in close consultation with South Western Community College and the relevant national bodies made the decision to bring their Pacific Island students home. Hure was in the first year of his two year program.
Aliel said he was very much looking forward to completing his studies at South Western, a sentiment shared also by Hure who said he was excited to go back and finish what he had started.
Athletics PNG President Tony Green extended thanks to the many organisations and individuals who assisted with arrangements for the return of the athletes, including Foundation Executive Office Mrs Helen McMurray; the Consular Section of the US Embassy for facilitating visa interviews and the National Operations Centre of Air Niugini for their advice and assistance on the matter of travel.
The athletes have a long journey to the United States, which is the result of very limited flight options at this time. Many travellers are being routed via Doha on Qatar Airways due to the restrictions on travelling to Sydney and Melbourne which have more flights to the USA ,and this was the route chosen for the athletes.
Photo (L-R): Roland & Rellie in Cairns 2019, Benjamin in Brisbane. Credit: Athletics PNG