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Men chases Olympic dream in Port Moresby

15 July 2015

PACIFIC GAMES: At the start of last year Australian Nicole Men decided to uproot her life from Canberra and move to London, to chase her Olympic dream.

The 27-year-old taekwondo athlete wants to qualify for the Rio Games and said it’s easier to travel to international tournaments from her new base.

“I always planned to live and work over there, but also because it’s so close to Europe for competition there’s a lot more access in terms of the level of competition and the experience that is required to get to the top,” she said.

“I made the decision at the start of 2014 that I wanted to progress further, to start matching people at the top level and London is a good base for that. It’s easy to get to those competitions.

“I travel a lot for competitions and back to Australia for competitions and training.”

Men will compete at the 2015 Pacific Games, where 40 world ranking points are up for grabs.

After travelling for five days to reach Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, she said the legs are still feeling fresh.

“Preparation, travelling, is always a tough one to overcome. But I think because it took me five days to get here I should feel very good. I’ve done some training and the legs weren’t feeling too bad and I’ve done some mental preparation with my coach Danny (Crkvencic),” she said.

Men, who works full-time as financial analyst, said the event will be fierce.

“I don’t know much about the competitors here but I expect it to be hard. You can never underestimate the competition, anything can happen in this sport.

“Often they might be bigger, particularly as I’m competing up (in a higher weight division), they could be a lot stronger. Each country tends to have their certain skills or attributes that the Team as a whole is quite good at. But then the individuals also have their own skills.”

She said the Games has exceeded expectations.

“Everything has been really well organised, plus everyone’s so helpful and friendly. It’s really great to be here.”

For Head Coach Ali Khalil, Port Moresby's warmer weather is good for the Team.

"Training in the warm weather is really good, it activates the body well and also helps some of them drop weight before their event."

He said the Games competition will be strong.

"It will be challenging, especially in some divisions. Results wise I have no expectations, I'm just after positive performances," he said.

"For a majority of the athletes they'll be looking to qualify from this for a series of events (the Grand Prix series) to gain more ranking points for the Olympics."

The women’s taekwondo competition will run on Thursday 16 July.

Annie Kearney
olympics.com.au

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