VETERAN bodybuilder Voniriti Radua has pulled out of the national squad that will compete at the South Pacific Bodybuilding Championships in Tonga later this month.
The reigning Mr Fiji was selected to represent the country in the over 90kg category after his win in the same category at last month's Mr Suva competition.
Team manager John Lee said Radua pulled out because of personal reasons.
"Another builder who had pulled out was Nilesh Chand from the under 70kg category," he said.
"Both have been replaced by Jekesoni Yanuyanudua in the under 75kg and Kaushik Kumar in the under 65kg category.
"We will miss out on a sure win in the under 90kg category since Poni (Radua) is not competing."
Bodybuilding Fiji president Reg Sanday said the last time Fiji competed in the South Pacific Bodybuilding Championships was in Samoa in 2008.
"Sending a team to this year's championship is part of the build-up to the Pacific Games in Port Moresby where Fiji hopes to be sending a full team," he said.
Nine countries have confirmed their participation in the event that will be held from October 23 to 25 and Sanday said the competition will be tough, but the aim is to start exposing especially our younger athletes now so that they will be ready for the Pacific Games in 21 months' time.
Bodybuilding Fiji is also encouraging bodybuilders in the lighter weights such as u65kg and in the womens' classes to come forward and showcase themselves at the Fiji National Championships on November 9 in Suva.
"Fiji has a comparative advantage in the lighter weights because our main competitors like Tonga, Samoa and Tahiti have bigger boned athletes."
Under 90-Sefanaia Cakautini (2nd runner up to Mr Suva), Under 85 - Inoke Ligairi (Mr Suva), Under 80 Lewaitasi Biliwaqa (1st runner up to Mr Suva), Under 75kg - Jekesoni Yanuyanudua, Under 65kg — Kaushik Kumar. Coach-Tumeli Navutovuto. Manager-John Lee.