THE stage is set for what is turning out to be an unpredictable Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics Finals at the National Stadium in Suva this morning.
The shocking revelation that sprint king Banuve Tabakaucoro is not participating is bound to rub off some of the glamour but this is not expected to take away the excitement and expectation of the fans and athletes.
Over 2200 athletes from 123 schools around the country will converge on the capital city for the two-day meet.
Today and tomorrow the cream of our student athletes will be competing for top honours in an event that easily ranks as the biggest in this part of the region.
This is the epitome of school athletics.
This is where dreams are lived, and athletes carry the hopes and aspirations of their school, and their family.
The Fiji finals have long been highly regarded as a platform where talented athletes are identified.
But therein lies a sad reality.
Where to from here?
Over the years the games have unleashed a stream of talented athletes. Some eventually moved on to don national colours.
There were the likes of former sprinters Vaciseva Tavaga, Rachael Rogers and Sera Tuinalase. There were strong runners like Miriama Radiniwaimaro and Makelesi Bulikiobo to name a few.
And alongside top female athletes were some of our top male athletes who made the transition from the Fiji finals to the highest stage of the sport.
They included the likes of Henry Elder, Viliame Nasuku, Alex Soqosoqo, Alfred Smith, Sireli Naikelekelevesi, and Iliesa Tanivula to name a few.
Unfortunately most of our student athletes will not make it past the Fiji finals. That is a sad reality.
But should this be the case, we may wonder?
There is no doubt about the fact that we have talented sportsmen and women who have the potential to make it big in athletics.
It is clear that the desire to succeed plays an important role in any athlete's career. It is this desire that must be nurtured. Commitment, discipline and perseverance are important factors and so are belief and sacrifice.
The onus may be on our athletes to get their priorities right and set high goals.
However, it is important that Athletics Fiji and the Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics Association are encouraged to work on a platform that allows our top student athletes to make the transition from the Fiji finals to the next level. This will mean more regular competitions around the country.
Right now the Fiji finals will easily rank as the most looked forward to event annually in the local school sporting calendar. But what's next?
The Pacific Games which comes around once every four years? The mini Games? The Commonwealth Games if we can meet the standards, again every four years? The Olympic Games?
We wish all the athletes the best today and tomorrow. May you all live your dreams and may you all have happy memories of the 2012 Fiji finals.