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ANDREW Molen, Papua New Guinea’s only representative to the 15th World Wushu Championships, is set to make history as the country’s first athlete to compete at the event when he leaves for China on Sunday.
This will be the first time for PNG to be represented at any international Wushu tournament.
He will be competing in the men’s 85kg category Sanda (free fighting) tournament and has been in intensive training in Port Moresby since July.
“I will be giving my best when I step onto the stage,” Molen said.
He said his preparation had not been easy with him juggling a fulltime job and training.
“But I’m glad it was done and I will be heading into competition soon,” Molen said.
PNG was invited by the International Wushu Federation to compete at the championships. Being the most experienced and active athlete in the newly-established sport in the country, the Kung Fu Wushu Association of PNG (KFWAPNG) had nominated Molen.
His nomination is backed by Oceania Kung Fu Wushu Federation president Walt Missingham who has been heavily involved in spreading the sport in the region.
“As part of the growth and development of Wushu in PNG and the region, we are delighted to be invited to be part of this year’s event,” he said.
Kung Fu Wushu PNG president Geoff Hui said: “Andrew has been an active member of our sport and we have confidence in him to proudly carry our flag in Shanghai.”
The championships will be held from October 18-24 in Shanghai and will feature two competition categories — Taolu (forms) and Sanda (free fighting).
Prior to that, Molen will be attending a coaching camp at the Shanghai University of Sport from Oct 6-18 under a scholarship from the Chinese Wushu Association. Hui said this was part of the development for Wushu in PNG and the Pacific by training coaches and athletes as the sport aimed to grow in the region.
Molen, who has been studying martial arts since he was a teenager, has represented PNG in kickboxing and karate.
He has also competed in taekwondo, kickboxing, karate, boxing and rugby at the national level.
“I’ve learned a lot of different things from some great people in martial arts and other sports,” Molen said.
“This has shaped the way I discipline myself when preparing for big events like this. I am grateful to all those people and the opportunities I had.”
However, it has not an easy ride for Molen who has fought many battles in and out of the ring.
“I’ve been through some tough times in life and whenever I try to leave because of that, someone or something pulls me back, and now here I am getting ready for the world championships,” he said.
“I’m glad I held on and kept pushing. Whatever the result maybe, I will be happy to share my experience with others.”
With retirement not far away, Molen said this was the highest level of competition that he had competed in.
“I am looking forward to returning and guiding others to achieve similar milestones in their career.”