$25k for Special Olympics

THE government through Fiji Sports Commission has provided a grant of $25,000 to Team Fiji for the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, USA.

Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Iliesa Delana said this was the first time for Fiji to participate in the Special Olympics World Games.

“This will be a lifetime experience for athletes with disability,” he said.

“For all of them, this will be the first time on a plane. The most touching bit is them being motivated by knowing their brothers and sisters from other places in the world.”

He said winning and losing was not important at this stage because Fijian athletes were going to the Special Olympics World Games for the first time.

“This is the first time. We want them to enjoy themselves.”

Fiji’s head of delegation Bishwa Sidal said the government funding was for the team’s airfares.

“Goodman Fielder has provided the team’s uniforms and Fiji Airways discounted our airfare,” he said.

According to the organisers of Special Olympics World Games, about 6500 athletes from 165 countries will be participating. A global television programming deal has also been finalised with ESPN to provide coverage of the games to millions of sports lovers around the world.

The opening ceremony will be held in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was also the venue for the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. United States of America President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are the honorary chairs of the games which many view as a powerful tool to showcase to the world the wonderful talents of people with intellectual disabilities.

Team Fiji officials

Head of Delegation: Bishwa Sidal

Head coach: Nischal Karan

Assistant coach/ Support staff: Temalesi Sigavere

Athletes:

Asenaca Ranadi Kulamailagi, 13 (100m & long jump); Molly Esther, 16 (100m & javelin); Adi Aseri Kulamailagi, 22 (200m & 400m); Abdul Imtiaz Shariff, 17 (200m & 400m); Ifereimi Qaranivalu Biutisuva, 17 (200m & long jump); Sikeli Nanokoivalu, 17 (100m & javelin)