THERE is a great need for high level of competition between athletes in the country, particularly at secondary school level. Athletics Fiji and Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) president Joe Rodan said he hoped to see more development in athletics meet particularly in creating high level of competition among athletes who participate in the Coca-Cola Games.
"We try getting the best out of the athletes when they leave school. Some of these athletes see the Coca-Cola Games as a pillar of their achievement in sports without realising there is a lot out there after the Coke Games," Rodan said.
"I hope that some of these athletes build-on and continue participating after the Coca-Cola Games and we in athletics need to market the sport better in order to get these athletes recognised.
"A lot of male athletes go to rugby after the Coke Games without realising their potential to represent Fiji as an individual in athletic meets," he said.
He said the Athletics Fiji's four years strategic plan was to try and get Fiji's athletes to the next level, and in order to do that they needed funding.
"All we need is finance, proper coaching and training and high level of competition because in Fiji we have natural athletes," he said. "If we look at our athletes they are like Jamaican athletes, we have the same structure, build and stamina and the only thing we don't have is the level of competition right now.
"If we have top level of competition then we can go a long way. When athletes reach the Coke Games, we try to encourage them with initiatives or programs that can help them like scholarships.
"We want to work towards being a developed country where athletics is concerned like Jamaica and the United States of America and we want to work towards bridging the gap from being a developing country to a developed one."
He said they were encouraging young athletes to compete well in secondary school level so they could represent Fiji in international level.
"Take for example top sprinter Banuve Tabakaucoro, he was a very good athlete but the only thing that he lacked in Fiji was competition," he said.
"He could've gone really far in athletics, but because of no competition and the lack of financial support, so he wasn't able to develop the sport further.
"For the Coke Games I think it's a good opportunity for athletes to showcase their ability but I think it will be quite a challenge for the usual schools to dominate because looking at the Zone meet domination anyone can win this year."