Blast from the past – Odro leaves her mark

Milika Odro in an athletics competition in the 1970s. Picture: SUPPLIED

DUBBED as one of the best female athletes in the 70s, the late Milika Odro made a name for herself in the athletic tracks during her high school days and also featured for Fiji in the South Pacific Games.

Odro who passed away late last month was buried at her village in Toga, Rewa last Friday.

She died after a short illness at the age of 59 and is survived by her husband, four children and three grandchildren.

The retired primary school teacher was renowned for her blistering speed in the 100 meters while attending Central Fijian Secondary School now known as Sila Central High School.

Her athletics career began in high school during the Fiji Games now known as the Coca-Cola Games and was named in the national team in the South Pacific Games back in the 70s.

She began her teaching career as soon as she departed tertiary level and has taught in various schools in the country for more than three decades including the north where she spent nine years with her husband who was a school teacher as well back then.

During her funeral service at Muana village Methodist church in Rewa, families, relatives, friends and workmates attended her funeral to farewell a champion in and off the track.

The district of Toga, in the province of Rewa and its village chiefs and elders attended the service with a message delivered during the services saying how she made everyone proud of her achievements especially being the first person from their district to reach international level in athletics.

Odro’s uncle Peniasi Odro was emotional during his speech saying how hard it was for him to stand in front of her niece’s coffin saying his goodbyes.

“She has bought a lot of changes in the family, she is the kind of person that bridges the gap between families and relatives and it’s not easy standing up here to say these words to her knowing we’ve lost someone really close to us,” Odro said.

Teaching for more than 30 years even after retirement, Odro was called up by St Joseph the Worker primary school to continue her teachings as she inspired many children and teachers with how she blended in so well in any environment she’s being placed.

Her second youngest son Moape Matau Jnr couldn’t stop his tears during the service as he recalls all those good times they had as a family.
“What else can we expect from a mother but their love, and she has shown that love not only to me but my siblings, family and her students and I know she will be missed by everyone,” he said.

It’s not usual seeing a husband speak during their wife’s funeral but Moape Matau stood out courageously to farewell her beloved despite the emotional and heart breaking scene of his wife’s casket in front of him.

Matau said losing someone you love is hard to absorb and it is also a challenge life gives us.

“Her departure has left painful memories that everyone who knew her will surely miss her because of her personality.

“When I married her, I promised her that we will raise a wonderful family and go through all the ups and downs, and yes we did it together and we
held on to each other until death separated us and we will never forget her.

“Having breakfast was always the most important meal of the day for us as she always waited for me in the kitchen despite the good and the bad we faced, we will begin a new day together as a family.

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