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Watirakala turns a new leaf

Serafina Silaitoga
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

SOUTH Pacific Games gold medalist and national rep Filomena Watirakala who broke track records in athletics in the 1980s despite being partially blind yesterday turned a new leaf in life with an improved eyesight.

Ms Watirakala, who made her first appearance on the tracks in 1979 as a national rep described her new condition as a blessing from above.

Eye surgeons helped improve her eyesight by treating through surgery a condition known as myopia which is short sightedness.

She was among the 42 eye surgery cases conducted at the Waiyevo Hospital in Taveuni yesterday.

"I have been partially blind since the age of 10 and I used to run on the tracks with my glasses and when it dropped, I pick it, wear it and head straight for the tape and come first," she said.

"But today, even though I don't run anymore on the tracks, I can better work with students as their coach.

"I lived a very difficult life because I was partially blind and going to school, attending training programs and travelling overseas was not easy. "

American eye surgeon Dr Jeffrey Rutgard said they treated various eyes conditions.

"The most common cases we treated were cataract and pterygium and I notice that more people come with these conditions over the past 12 years I have been travelling to Fiji," he said.

"People need to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle including daily walks."

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