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The 2 that made the difference

Manoj Kumar
Saturday, May 18, 2013

THEY are two athletes with three things in common. They were drafted in from another school, they are now Fiji squad mates and are the reason why Adi Cakobau's School's 12-year reign as girls champions of the Coca-Cola Games came to a shock end.

Put Jasper Williams High School's 'Purple Reign' at the ANZ Stadium yesterday down to Mereseini Naidau and Meresiana Vukici.

They were recruited to conquer and conquer they did. Naidau was brought to the Lautoka boarding school from Nadarivatu Secondary School last year while Vukici came in from Holy Cross College, Taveuni.

While all eyes were on senior girls like Naidau's sister Sereima Liku and Elenoa Sailosi to shine, these two intermediate girls stole the show.

The tide of the 'Waimanu Kui' changed when Naidau and Vukici made a splash with three gold medals each to the Jasperians tally. That gave the 'Westsiders', as the new champions like to call themselves, nine gold compared to ACS's four.

Sailosi factor

Even a fully fit Sailosi would not have made a difference had she beaten her friend Sisilia Seavula and won gold in the senior girls 100 and 200 metres. That would have only taken ACS's gold total to six.

I asked Saint Joseph's Seavula if she felt Sailosi's recent injury helped her reign as the Games sprint queen. "I think she did her best, she ran with all her heart and might, but I feel it was my commitment towards training this year that paid off," quipped Seavula.

"I had not taken training that seriously before."

Fiji call-up

Vukici was Jasper's unsung hero. While national rep Naidau took all the plaudits, Vukici went unnoticed.

"I was asked to come over last year, I came and it's good," she said about her move to Jasper. Good? More like great as she finds herself pencilled in by Fiji Athletics president Albert Miller as one of the new faces in the Fiji squad for the upcoming Mini South Pacific Games.

Vukici won gold in the intermediate girls 400 and 800 metres and triumphed with Naidau in the intermediate girls 4x400m relay. Naidau also scooped gold in the 1500 and 3000 metres open girls races.

I asked her if she and her sister would have gone to ACS instead of Jasper if approached: "No," Naidau uttered. I was tempted to ask 'why?' but didn't!

Marist again

It was nice to see the Victorians from Matavatucou emerge on the scene but victory once again went to the boys from Flagstaff.

QVS at one stage yesterday were keeping pace with Marist on the medal tally but the champions ran away with it late in the day with three gold medals in the relays (4x400 junior, 4x400 senior, and 4x100 inter) while Simione Isimeli's golden leap in the senior boys triple jump, Isikeli Waqa's senior high jump win, Sekope Tuilevu's inter triple jump gold and Sirino Moceilekutu junior boys javelin victory showed that Marist's strength lies in field events.

Impressive outings

Inia Sili, from Guru Nanak Khalsa in Labasa, ran his way into the Fiji team after winning the 1500 metres open boys gold and getting silver in the 3000 metres open.

I won't be surprised to see him move to a Suva school next year — a middle distance champion in the making.

Natabua High School's Batinisavu Uluiyata was unlucky to be disqualified in the inter boys 200 metres final — he could have won a third gold there to add to his impressive performances in the gold winning inter 40 metres final and 4x400 metres final. He is in Miller's list too.

Gospel High's Younis Bese, winner of 100 and 200 metres in inter girls, turned heads — not only did she win, she won well and impressive too was her school mate Aaron Powell.

Akeneta Seniyagona, of Napuka Secondary (39.36m), surprised many with her effort in the senior girls javelin.

Josua Serukilagi, of Queen Victoria, smashed the junior boys discuss record (48.92m).

Natabua's Sireli Bulivorovoro stood out in the senior long jump with a leap of 7.16 metres and RKS's Atueta Savou sprung a surprise over Marist's Mustafa Fall senior boys discuss.

Then there was the Game's sprint king Beniamino Maravu. Him, Sila's Waisake Raselala and Banuve Tabakaucoro are being eyed by Miller and company for our sprint campaign at the Mini Games.

The best

Suva Grammar's Kemueli Waqa was voted best male athlete for his two gold medals in the 4x100 relay and 400 meters senior boys plus the silver he got in the 200m.

Miriama Senokonoko, of ACS, was good choice for best female athlete having been highlighted on our front page yesterday. Full marks though to Naidau — this girl has energy to burn. The way she ran and won the 3000m and then anchored Jasper's inter 4x400 relay was awesome.

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