NADI International Airport came to a standstill as the stakeholders together with sponsors Digicel, schoolchildren, tourists, fans and family members greeted Fijis first Paralympics gold medallist Iliesa Delana yesterday.
Delana was given VIP treatment upon his arrival on the Air Pacific 737 flight from Sydney. The plane that Delana was on was given a water salute by two fire tenders as it taxied its way on the tarmac.
The arrival area at the Nadi Airport was a sea of colour with schoolchildren waving the Fiji flag.
The Nadi sky turned dark after midday and as Delana appeared from the arrival concourse it began to rain a sign of blessing from above.
Scores of people including students from the various special schools from Sigatoka, Nadi and Lautoka braved the rain as the Natabua High School band led the march around the Nadi Airport complex together with the Saint Thomas High School band.
Delana, seated in a Mercedes Benz convertible, seemed to be stunned by the big reception.
The 27-year-old said he had not thought of such a big welcome when he stepped off the plane.
I was just thinking to come down and have a cup of tea and say hi, congratulations but there is so much hype, Delana said.
To the whole of Fiji I wasnt expecting this much but I feel at home, Delana said.
I want to thank everyone who has been supportive especially the government of the day and the sponsor Digicel who have been with me all the way from Sydney to Nadi. I want to thank the Almighty for all the blessing. I have never witnessed such a big reception.
I have become a national hero but for me I will live like a normal person. I will keep a low profile.
Delana won the gold medal during the High Jump F42 event in London.