I watched with tears as Heleina Young was disqualified from her race on Day 2 of the Coke Games. The look on her face was heart wrenching and no doubt that feeling of hurt and humiliation will be with her for life. To make matters worse, it was displayed on national television for the world to see. Wasn't the Coca-Cola Games initially established to bring students from all over Fiji to showcase their athletic flair and prowess and most importantly to have fun while doing it?
While I stand to be corrected on that, I believe the Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics Association has lost sight of that in its bid to be more marketable and be of world-class standard. There is nothing wrong with that and no doubt the event has produced exceptional athletes over the years with some going on to greener pastures. However, the underlying issue is that at the end of the day, these athletes are still young and very vulnerable. What happened to the second chances that student-athletes used to get if they break-start?
The humiliation from such disqualification has far-reaching emotional and psychological consequences on our youngsters which I am sure the Ministry of Education is all too aware of. If Olympic standard is what they seek, then may I suggest that they limit that to senior grades only and spare our younger grades. Instead we encourage them to continue and have fun as its their day after all.
Please bring back the second-chance rule for the young track athletes. If God can give second chances, why can't we.