Fiji Time: 1:18 PM on Wednesday 26 November

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I'll do it for Fiji

BAMIT RAJ
Friday, August 29, 2008

RANJESH Prakash is used to being under pressure. That is why his spirit is flying at being the lone Fijian at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.

Prakash, 19, of Vatulaulau, Ba, is visually-impaired and is out to salvage pride for Team Fiji by winning a medal in athletics.

Speaking at a press conference in Suva yesterday, he said he was looking forward to taking part in his first Paralympic Games.

He will run in the 100 and 200-metre events.

"I'm a little nervous and I do feel a bit pressured," he said.

"But I'm confident and I might bring home a medal," he said.

Prakash has been representing Fiji since 2006, having run personal bests of 11.9secs and 25secs in the 200m. At the 2006 FESPIC Games in Malaysia, he won bronze in the events.

In 2007, at the Arafura Games in Darwin, he again won bronze in the sprints and this year at the 86th Australian Championships in Brisbane he was placed 5th in the 100m.

The fourth former at DAV College, in Nabua, came to Suva in 2002 to attend the Suva Blind School.

He is the youngest in a family of three and was brought up by his mum, Tara Mati, after his father died when he was three months old. He has dedicated his Beijing runs to the dad he never knew and to his guardians, the Ravutu family.

Prakash, who will be flag-bearer as well, said, "If my dad was alive he would have been proud.

"Since he is not around and I only have my mum, my achievement shows that anything is possible even without the support of a dad."

He paid tribute to the Ravutu family with whom he has been living since last year, saying his guardians talatala Uraia Makau, his wife Olita Naulu had gone out of their way to help him.

Prakash said he only came to the know the Ravutu family through fellow disabled athlete Nacanieli Ravutu, Olita's brother.

"I started staying with his family after we became friends last year," he said.

After finishing secondary school, the youngster hopes to purse further studies in Accounting at the University of the South Pacific.

He leaves for Beijing on Sunday morning with section manager-coach Saniana Tukana and doctor Jagdish Maharaj.

The 2008 Paralympics will be held from September 6-17.





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