In Fiji:

November 22, 2022, 1:34 pm
Fiji News, Sports

A proud achievement for sports in Fiji

Story By: FIJI TV Team

A very special milestone for sports in Fiji became a reality when six athletes with intellectual impairment (ID) took part at the inaugural Oceania Asia Virtus Games in Brisbane, Australia from 5th to 11th November 2022. This was the first time that a combined Oceania and Asia Virtus Games was staged and also the first time that Fiji athletes were invited.

VIRTUS, the founding member of International Paralympics Committee (IPC), was established in 1986. It is recognized globally as the international Organization for Disability Sports (IODS) with the responsibility for the management of eligibility and classification for athletes with Intellectual impairment (ID).

Fiji was blessed with the initiative by Sports Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith and Fiji Sports Commission CEO Peter Mazey to conduct a workshop in April 2022 for psychologists in Fiji to be trained to assess athletes with ID.

Through this initiative, Fiji Paralympics Committee (FPC) is the first country in the Pacific Islands to be an accredited member of Virtus and Dr Annie Crookes from the School of Law and Social Sciences of USP is now the only person in Fiji fully credited to assess athletes with ID.

During this workshop, 8 athletes were brought in as a practical exercise for the psychologists to learn how to assess and eventually, through Dr Annie’s and Sports Development Officer for Special Olympics Fiji, six athletes are now fully accredited under Virtus. These athletes now can qualify to represent Fiji at the Paralympics Games.

Virtus Games are meant for elite ID athletes to compete at a higher level. Through the joint understanding between Fiji Paralympics Committee, Fiji National Sports Commission and Special Olympics Fiji (the organisation that looks after sports for people with ID in Fiji), we were able to prepare these six athletes to compete at the OA Virtus Games.

With 27 countries taking part with their elite athletes, Fiji with our developing athletes was able to receive 1 silver and 2 bronze medals.

Waisea Togotogorua – Bronze 100m, Bronze Shot Put, Silver Mixed 4 x 100m Relay

Fiji Mixed Relay Team – Silver (Esther Molly, Imitiaz Shariff, Milika Turaga & Waisea Togotogorua)

Full Team

Athletes

Esther Molly – 100m, 200m, Shot Put, 4 x 100m Mixed relay

Milika Turaga – 100m, 200m, 4 x 100m Mixed relay

Waisea Togotogorua – 100m, 200m, Shot Put, 4 x 100m Mixed relay

Imitiaz Shariff – 200m, 400m, Shot Put, 4 x 100m Mixed Relay

Sereana Ledua – Table Tennis (singles)

Misilo Nakabi Gary – Swimming, 25m Back, 50m, 100m Free

Team Officials

Head of Delegation – Robin Dayal

Coaches – Manasa Delavasa

Komal Prakash

Bibiana korotubua

This is a great achievement for Fiji’s ID athletes, setting a new pathway for all other ID athletes in Fiji.

As the Sports Director for SO Fiji and the HOD for Virtus Team Fiji, having this first-hand experience, I am confident that by the 2032 Paralympics Games in Brisbane, we will be able to win medals.

Fiji is already invited to participate in France in 2023. However, to achieve this, the athletes need to qualify. FPC and SO Fiji will be meeting to work out strategies for how we can have more of our elite athletes assessed and eventually qualify for future games.

The vision set by the OA Games, “Included Through Sports” and “Leaving No One Behind” as is the Fiji Governments’ motto will create a new pathway for Sports in our country. It is time that different stakeholders consider working together with the ID athletes giving them the support needed.