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Tough battle

Rashneel Kumar
Friday, April 25, 2014

FORMER Olympic Games gold medallist Dwight Phillips is excited with the hype generated by the 2014 Coca-Cola Games.

The four-time world champion Phillips, 36, is in the country alongside former middle distance runner Hazel Clark as part of the US Department of State Sport's Envoy Program.

Phillips has been helping athletes with preparation and motivating them by sharing his experience as a world champion in the long jump event.

He hopes this will inspire them to do well in the Fiji Finals which start this morning at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

"I think the hype building around this year's Coca-Cola Games is tremendous," he said.

"It's kind of like college football back at home where people sit around and talk about who is going to win.

"This is the same climate. I'm in awe of the team camaraderie here and how involved the entire community is behind their former schools."

Phillips is anticipating a strong competition in both divisions in the annual secondary schools athletics meet.

He expects girls' defending champions Jasper Williams High School and boys' champions Marist Brothers High School to retain their titles.

"I'm anticipating great performances and maybe a repeat win to Jasper Williams although I feel that ACS (Adi Cakobau School) has a rich tradition of winning," said Phillips who retired from athletics last year.

"I think Marist is the team to beat in the boys division. I think they also have a rich tradition of winning and I presume they will continue their winning form.

"I also predict a multitude of strong performances from athletes across the competition from all events."

Phillips, who won the Olympic gold medal in the Athens Games in 2004 and was the world champions in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2011, is looking forward to his first experience of the games.

"I'm so grateful that the US Embassy provided me the opportunity to experience the culture in Fiji and work with the athletes over the past week.

"It was more than I could have ever imagined."

The games will start at 9.40am today.

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