‘Fiji will shine’

Gold prospects ... Members of the Team Fiji Weightlifting squad after a training session in Gold Coast, Australia yesterday. Picture: ATMA MAHARAJ/SUPPLIED

Members of the Team Fiji Weightlifting squad. Picture: ATMA MAHARAJ/SUPPLIED

COULD 2018 Commonwealth Games chairperson Peter Beattie be prophesying that this year Fiji will shine and end a 16-year gold medal drought at the event.

Fiji last won a gold medal through judoka Nacanieli Takayawa but there are a few prospects this year starting on Thursday with three athletes — Maria Mareta, Poama Qio and Manueli Tulo — competing in gold medal playoffs.

And then there is our national men’s 7s rugby team that will be vying for that gold medal that has eluded our teams since the sport has been part of the games.

Of course, our Sportswoman of the Year, Eileen Cikamatana broke her Commonwealth and Oceania Championships record at the Mini Pacific Games in Vanuatu last year with a lift of 105kg in the snatch and 143kg in the clean and jerk categories for a total lift of 248kg.

Cikamatana is the best junior and second best weight-lifter in the world in the 90kg category.

Beattie said Fiji would be among nations enjoying success at the 16-day tournament.

“Fiji is going to shine,” Beattie said. “You have some of the best athletes in the Commonwealth Games. In the Oceania, Fiji has produced some of the best athletes in the world. This will help you in the games and it should be taken seriously.

“You have some of the best rugby players in the world and some of the best rugby league players, so as I am being neutral here, I think Fiji will do well in the games.”

Beattie said Australia would continue to work with Oceania partners to develop and enhance sports development.

“For Australia we can continue with the good partnership. Forty-nine per cent of the best athletes from Australia are from the Torres Strait and the Oceania, especially from Fiji. We will continue to work with the Oceania to develop sports.”

Meanwhile, Team Fiji has settled well in the Commonwealth Games Village.

On Sunday evening, the contingent was welcomed by members of the Fijian Association in Brisbane.

The event included Fiji’s High Commissioner to Australia, Yogesh Punja. Team Fiji was accorded a traditional welcoming ceremony and later attended an inter-denominational church service.

The teams attended to their various training schedules yesterday at various centres around the Gold Coast.

Meanwhile, President Jioji Konrote will provide the needed boost for the Team Fiji athletes at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia.

He is scheduled to visit the team today and our athletes at the Gold Coast are looking forward to welcoming the Fijian entourage a day before the 2018 Gold Coast Games starts.

Team Fiji chef de mission Patrick Bower said athletes and officials except the Fiji 7s men’s and women’s teams would attend the welcome ceremony to greet the President.

“The high delegation visit from home will boost the athletes. That is what they need,” Bower said.