Oceania delegations declare participation a huge success
27 September, 2017 (13:59)
Athletes and officials from Oceania have united in declaring their participation at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games an historic and successful moment for sports in their region, saying the experience will benefit their competitors for years to come.
A total of 19 Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) accepted invitations from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to send teams to Ashgabat.
The Turkmenistan organising committee covered the costs of teams travelling to the AIMAG, with a combined total of around 250 athletes from Oceania taking the unique chance to compete against the best from Asia in 11 different sports.
‘We really have to thank the Turkmenistan Organising Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia,” said Lorraine Mar, the Secretary General and CEO of the Fiji National Olympic Committee.
“Our athletes that competed in these facilities were able to raise their own standards because we don’t have these kind of facilities in Fiji.
“It’s been a really good initiative to create greater co-operation between Oceania and Asia and if more of that could happen, it would be a great.”
Terry Sasser, the Secretary General of the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee, said there had been multiple benefits for the Oceania athletes that competed at the AIMAG.
“We came here for the competition because we don’t get it much in the Pacific. It’s very difficult to travel logistically,” he said.
“And obviously the facilities and the hospitality and organisation is as good as you can get. This is at an Olympic quality level and they could host an Olympics tomorrow with what they have here.”
The OCA and ONOC have been working together to foster more competition and co-operation between the two regions and the initiative is now bearing fruit.
Oceania were first invited by the OCA to compete at the 8th Asian Winter Games, held in Sapporo, Japan in February, but were ineligible to win medals. But they were allowed to compete for medals at the AIMAG and four countries succeeded in making it on the podium.
Federated States of Micronesia sprinter Alvin Martin said all the athletes were amazed at the quality of the facilities in Ashgabat and the cultural experiences they shared with other teams during their stay in Ashgabat.
"This place is like paradise, that’s the only word I can use to describe it,” he said. "The facilities for the athletes at the village and in the training areas are fantastic, even the starting blocks there are brand new. "There are no indoor tracks where we are from so this is the first time we’ve ever trained indoors."
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