The Pacific Games in PNG to open in two days' time will be a family affair for Australia’s Taekwondo team.

2 Jul 2015 - 10:30 AM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2015 - 10:33 AM

Olympians Carmen Marton and husband Safwan Khalil are leading the Australian line up and Marton is thrilled to have her younger siblings Caroline and Jack also competing at the Games. 

Safwan’s brother Ali Khalil is the Australian coach.

“It’s a blessing to have a support network with all my family and to be able to share these memories together,” Carmen said.

“We’re all aiming for Rio and for the last two years we’ve done lots of planning to be able to form a good a Team for all the athletes.”

The Pacific Games is a World Taekwondo Federation sanctioned event which contributes to ranking points under their 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualification system. 

Both Marton and Khalil will compete at the Games in preparation for qualifying for Rio. 

The pair finished fifth at London 2012 and will be aiming for a podium finish next year.

"It's a blessing to have a support network with all my family and to be able to share these memories together"

Marton, 28, made history in 2013 when she became the first Australian to win a World Championships in Taekwondo, while Khalil was the first Australian to win gold at a benchmark event, the 2011 World Universiade.

“The Pacific Games is a really important tournament because it’s worth 40 world ranking points and it’s another chance to prepare to reach our full potential,” she said.
“We’re in a good state to come home with medals but we’re not underestimating any of the other countries particularly Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and French Polynesia - they’re all very strong in taekwondo. 

Also included in the Australian Team is 16-year-old Deanna Kyriazolpoulios.

The Sydneysider competed at her first World Championships in Russia, last month and is viewed as an up and comer in the Team. 

Ali Khalil believes the Pacific Games will be a big test on the road to Rio. 

“We haven’t competed in the Oceania region for a few years so it’s a real open playing field. We’re hoping for some good performances from the younger athletes including Deanna,” he said. 

“As the top two Australian females at the moment, having Caroline and Carmen competing, as well as training together, is great.” 

It is the first time Australia and New Zealand have been invited to compete at the Pacific Games. More than 40 Australians are set to participate in sailing, rugby sevens, weightlifting and taekwondo. 

The Games run from 4-18 July, with more than 3000 athletes from 21 countries competing in 28 sports.