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Faster, higher, stronger

Kameli Rakoko
Sunday, April 27, 2014

WHAT a heart-stopping finale to the annual Coca-Cola Games like it has never been seen before.

It all came down to the wire. With the last two events of 4x100 and 4x400 to go Adi Cakobau, Jasper High School and St Joseph were still locked at 5 gold medals each.

But finally Jasper eased off with 10 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze while a powerful rally by ACS ended with 8 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze.

In the boys Marist with 14 gold, 19 silver, 12 bronze was pushed right through by a game Natabua with 11 gold, 3 silver 5 bronze and QVS 7 gold.

The equal spread of medals throughout the different schools participating showed the depth and extent of athletics development in the country.

PEMAC teachers graduating from Advanced College and other qualified physical education teachers now present in almost all schools have year after year contributed to the improving performances.

Jasper's three gold medal hero Mereseini Naidau opened the games with a gold medal in the 1500 metres, opened the second day with her second gold in the 3000 and the senior girls 4x 400 gold intermediate record breaking run.

Fellow national team member Inia Sili, formerly of Labasa's Gurdayal Secondary, was too hot to handle for his new school Suva Grammar and heroes and heroines were not only coming from the champion schools.

Take for instance Namosi Secondary's Merelita Tuilawaki who took the 800 gold and then pipped the Jasper runner in the final moment to take home the 4x400 relay gold.

Cuvu College's Eta Marama shocked everyone at the tape with the junior girls 800 metres.

She is the young sister of Nadroga rugby forward Manoa Tamaya.

Tailevu North's Kameli Toduadua, who won the junior boys 800 metres, showed when it comes to the crunch even sophisticated training and preparation cannot match pure raw talent.

In the sub junior girls final Kelera Tamaniveli of Duavata Secondary of Labasa won gold. Definitely she must be related to a former RKS and national 400 metre runner and retired police officer Aporosa Tamaniveli of Macuata.

This writer still has scars on the ear from a tackle on him in one of his bulldozing runs for the Police rugby team in Suva.

While the second day of finals belonged to the top schools this outside schools dominated the sprints and relays.

Sawani may no longer have the runners of past years but they were still the best in baton changes in the relays.

There are two techniques of baton change. The next runner holds out his or left hand and the runner holding the baton in the right hand would stick it to the left hand. And the new runner would with the baton from left to right.

But the other technique is for the runner at the baton change to stick out his or her right hand so no moment of delay is encountered.

The best baton change of the day was made by ACS in the Junior girls 4x100 relay.

Jasper made the first baton change and looked like they were going to win another gold. But Moceisawana, the ACS anchor runner, looked like a left hander and stuck out her left, received the baton and in one swift movement was already charging for the finish.

The Jasper girl had to stall momentarily to change the baton from her left to right. That was all it took to make the difference between winning gold and silver.

If the competition continues to be close like this it will have to boil down to such minute details. The diet, the motivational words, the more scientific aspects.

This means a further boost to the level of competition and soon one day we will win the elusive Olympic medal.

When that happens everyone who has participated over the year's year in and year out, the athletes, parents, teachers, volunteers, and sponsors should be congratulated.

Whatever contribution that has been made has laid the foundation for the future to build their aspirations and expectations on.

In the spirit of the Olympics, which means, 'what you can do, I can do better' or higher, faster stronger.

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