Following one of Eugene Vollmers jumps in the finals of the NAIA National Championships triple jump, one fan shouted, Where is a Fiji flag when you need one? These kids are unbelievable!
The fan was referring to the performances of Vollmer and fellow Fiji rep and Fresno Pacific teammate Milika Tuivanuavou in the triple jump.
If you love watching the jumps, those are the kids to watch! Go Fiji!
Vollmer and Tuivanuavou have both had incredible seasons for Fresno Pacific University.
Going into the national championships in Indiana, the Fijian duo had lofty goals, and neither weather nor injury could keep them from achieving them.
After more than three hours in the sun and over 37 degree heat around the shot put ring, Tuivanuavou was rushed into the triple jump competition.
There had been a major measuring error in the shot put competition which negated her first three throws, two of which may have been far enough to win.
Coach JT Thiesen said, The first group of throwers had to re-throw after about two hours of waiting, and then throw again if they made the final. Milika had a tremendous disadvantage today. She still finished 6th and was all-american, but she wanted to win like she did at indoor nationals.
Tired and weary, Milika headed over to triple jump competition.
She has been jumping great this year, Thiesen said.
Milika broke her own Fiji national record again two weeks ago with a jump of 12.29 metres.
Just when she started to jump, the wind and rain came, but the former Yat Sen head girl proved that she was the class of the field with multiple jumps over 12 metres, all long enough to win her first triple jump national championship.
For Vollmer, who has won two triple jump national championships of his own in previous years, the day would also be a special one.
He came into the triple jump competition with a 6th place, all-american, finish in the long jump the day before.
Eugene seemed more excited today than I have seen him in a long time, Coach JT Thiesen said.
He wanted to put on a show today. With a large crowd gathered for what was one of the most exciting competitions of the weekend, Vollmer was the first jumper and started things off right with a jump of 16.08 metres in the preliminary round.
Eugenes jump was huge, especially because it was into a wind of more than 4.5 kmph. The jumpers in the rounds to follow had tail winds of more than 4 kmph which wouldve made his jump well over 16.30 metres, Thiesen said.
The former Marist head boys jump of 16.08 is a new Fiji national record, breaking his own record set more than one month ago. It was good enough to place him 2nd, and give him his 9th NAIA all-american award.
I was proud of Eugene, not only because of how well he jumped, but also because every one of his competitors knows him and respects him, Thiesen said.
He has really made a name for himself because of his personality, faith, and ability to make friends with his competitors. It doesnt hurt that he has come in 1st or 2nd in the last 6 national championships.
With one year of schooling left at Fresno Pacific University, both Tuivanuavou and Vollmer are on track to graduate next May.
They make Fiji proud every single day, Thiesen said. They take pride in being their best so that they can contribute back at home in the future. They are truly special! They deserve every award and all the recognition they get!