THE loss of her mother four years ago inspired her to return to athletics and then the loss of her uncle on Monday motivated her to win gold.
Makelesi Tumalevu beat compatriot Milika Tuivanuavou for the top prize in the women's long jump at the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna yesterday.
United States-based Tuivanuavou thought gold was hers when she jumped a distance of 5.43m in her third attempt to qualify for the top eight.
It was the furthest anyone had jumped in the batch of nine while Tumalevu managed only 5.28m.
In the final rounds Tuivanuavou was not able to improve on her mark from her first two jumps.
In her final attempt, Tumalevu leapt to a distance of 5.48m to shock Tuivanuavou and the Team Fiji supporters who had gathered to watch the event.
In her final attempt Tuivanuavou stepped over the jump line and her leap was declared a no jump thus ensuring Tumalevu the gold medal.
New Caledonia's Manuella Gavin was third at 5.25m.
Tumalevu said she had gold on her mind all the way from Fiji to Wallis and Futuna.
"And then just on Tuesday when I checked my email, I found out my uncle Netani Vuda had passed away on Monday back in the village in Yasawa," the 24-year-old said.
"That was what motivated me to win this medal here today (yesterday). I was sad but I used the sad news to motivate me."
The former Central College student said she was now working towards qualifying for the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea in 2015.
Tuivanuavou said the competition was very tough and the heat took a heavy toll on her.
"It was good competition competing against my fellow teammate and I am happy with what I have achieved."