Tarere, Vele to join Team PNG for Paris Olympics

(L-R) Georgia-Leigh Vele and Josh Tarere (Photo: PNG Swimming)

Papua New Guinea Swimming Inc this week confirmed that two of its swimmers, Josh Tarere and Georgia-Leigh Vele are bound for the Paris Olympic Games after their universality slots were approved by World Aquatics.

This brings the total number of qualified athletes for Team PNG to five 22 days from the opening ceremony.

Federation president Elizabeth Wells said the wait was over for the pair who would be making their Olympic debuts under the universality placing.

“We are very excited that two PNG swimmers, one male and one female, have been approved by World Aquatics as our universality swimmers to compete at the Paris Olympics,” Wells told The National.

“They both have been very dedicated to their training programmes to secure a spot, especially over the past 12 months.

“Their coaches have in place a plan which is devoted to preparation for doing well in competition.”

Tarere, is currently under a World Aquatics scholarship training at the elite Thanyapura Training Centre in Phuket, Thailand while Vele, is training on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.

The pair’s last competition with the Papua New Guinea Swim team was at the Oceania Aquatics Championships held on the Gold Coast in April.

Vele has competed in various championships abroad with notable mentions including the 2022 FINA World Swimming Championships in Australia as well as the World Aquatics Championships in Japan last year.

She also competed at the Honiara Pacific Games where she won bronze in the 50-metre breaststroke event.

For Tarere, coming from a rugby union family where his dad and elder brother were former PNG Pukpuks, the youngster rose in the swimming ranks putting on an impressive debut performance in the World Championship in February in Doha, Qatar. His training scholarship in Thailand was a result of his exceptional performance at the World Aquatic Championships in Japan last year.

Going into their Olympic debuts later this month, Tarere will be competing in the 100m freestyle with Vele in the 50m freestyle.

Wells added that the pair had a high regard for performance excellence, good training and good preparation.

“They are both extremely motivated and have a vision to do their best in the pool, Josh in 100m freestyle and Georgia-Leigh in 50m freestyle,” she said.

“They are both are actively striving to reach their goal times in the lead-up preparations before departing for the Paris Olympics and they will compete with a positive purpose to swim fast for PNG, under the direction of coach Rick Van der Zant.

“They will stay in their home programmes for the next two weeks, going into the tapering off phase of their preparation before competing on the world stage in Paris.”

The pair now join weightlifter Morea Baru and taekwondo pair Gibson Mera and Kevin Kassman to make up Team PNG for the Games from 26 July – 11 August.

It is understood that sprinter Leonie Beu has been nominated for the universality place for athletics but is awaiting confirmation from World Athletics.

Mera and Kassman were the only athletes that secured their spots through direct qualification having excelled at the Oceania Taekwondo Championships. Baru, Vele and Tarere will be competing through the universality places along with Beu once her universality spot is confirmed by World Athletics.