AS the nation celebrated the amazing achievement of Fijian athletics hero Iliesa Delana, his mother Lice Bulusui was in the dark over her son's outstanding history-creating performance at the London Paralympics.
Dressed in farm clothes, Ms Bulusui had just returned from the farm when The Fiji Times team arrived at the national hero's family home at Yalava, Nadrala in Nadroga yesterday.
She welcomed us with no idea about who we were. After the pleasantries, I told her I was there to get her comments about her son's achievement.
She asked, "What happened to Ili (Delana)?" I told her he had won a gold medal at the games.
For a moment, she turned her face to the sky with eyes closed, then whispered, "thank you Jesus", as tears flowed down her cheeks.
"This is the happiest day of my life," she said.
She invited us into their humble corrugated iron home which was decorated with Delana's numerous medals and awards.
Delana had won 16 medals in what can only be described as an outstanding athletic career — 13 of which were gold.
"He last called me on Sunday, asking me to pray for him as he prepared for this important assignment. Ili told me that his only concern was a Chinese athlete who was much more experienced than him and my message to him was, 'luvequ, just do your job, we'll pray for you'."
"This is definitely one of the most memorable moments that I will always treasure about Ili, especially since his humble beginnings from his childhood days here on this farm."
Ms Bulusui said Delana was only three years old when he was involved in an accident at Nasau Youth Training Camp at Nadroga that resulted in the amputation of his leg. She said her son had always wanted to be a rugby player but the accident changed his life.
"At times when I'd take him to school, I knew the disappointment he felt when watching his peers playing rugby on the field. I always felt for Ili but I never gave up on him becoming a successful person.
"He is a strong person and was never ashamed of his disability. He always encouraged me not to lose hope because he said the Almighty God had plans for everybody created on this world and that included him.
"Thank you for bringing me this good news. I now realise and reaffirm that the Almighty God has plans for everyone. And anything is possible through the power of prayer. Ili's dedication and the support he received made him a star," Ms Bulusui said.
Delana hails from Naigani Village, Batiki in Lomaiviti and attended Sigatoka Methodist Primary and High School, before pursuing further education at the then Fiji Institute of Technology now the Fiji National University.
He is also a part time student at the University of the South Pacific pursuing a career in Industrial Electrical Engineering and has been living with guardians, the Fatiaki family in Nausori for more than four years.