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Ex-stars Who Have Their Eyes on Rio

Ex-stars Who Have Their Eyes on Rio
Manueli Laqai (left), and Livia Ikanikoda. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai
April 23
13:06 2016

The 40th Fiji Bitter Marist 7s tournament continues today at the ANZ Stadium, Suva. This is where the surviving clubs fight for the Cup prize while others go for whatever prizes, they can win.

But for many players this is an opportunity they could resurrect their career and be in contention for a spot in the Vodafone Fijian 7s team for the last leg of the 2015/16 World Sevens Series and then to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.

Former national 7s reps have been working hard to get back into shape and to prove themselves at the Marist 7s. We spoke to some of them yesterday and here is what they had to say.

 

  1. LIVIA IKANIKODA

He was the playmaker of the Vodafone Fijian 7s team that won the Gold Coast 7s tournament in 2010. Recently, Ikanikoda was included into the Vodafone Fijian 7s training squad.

“This year has been such an important one, not only for me but all the players who is wishing to be in the final squad for Rio,” the former Suva Grammar School student said.

“For me personally I have really focused on myself and given-up luxuries in order to prove myself to Ben (Ryan). I have given up smoking, drinking kava and alcohol. That’s how much getting into the team means to me. Everyone wants to play at the Olympics but not everyone can go, you cannot just be good, you need to be something special if Ben wants to consider you and that is what I want to be. I am confident that I can book a spot because I know I have been working really hard and disciplining myself. So I have and will do my part, the rest I am leaving it up to the Almighty.”

 

  1. MANUELI LAQAI

The former Vodafone Fijian 7s forward has not been consistent with his performance but he is keeping his hopes alive of representing Fiji to the world’s most prestigious sporting event in August.

“I think fitness is one of the main areas that I have been working on because sevens isn’t like fifteens,” he said.

“Fitness is what Ben Ryan focuses on among other things. But for those who want to get into the squad they will have a tough time because they will compete with the current players and also those who are coming from overseas. So it will be interesting to see what happens.”

 

  1. ALIPATE RATINI

France-based speedster Alipate Ratini has been in the country for over two months now. The 22-year-old who plays in the Top 14 competition for La Rochelle suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and has been in the country to recover. Before the Namosi native departs for France on Monday, he was given a chance by Tabadamu to play in the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s competition. He told SUNsports that he is putting his hands up to try out for the winger’s position to the Rio Olympic Games.

“I’m thankful and happy that I was given a chance by Tabadamu to play in this tournament,” Ratini said.

“It is always good to play in local tournaments. As for Rio, yes I am willing to put my hands up and once again wear the white jersey.  If Ben Ryan gives me a chance I will be doing everything in my power to prove myself. It is always a privilege to represent your country and doing it for an event such as the Olympics will be truly an honour.”

 

  1. NASONI ROKO

The veteran speedster was a member of the 2005 World Cup Sevens winning team. At the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s tournament, he wants to prove the odds wrong that age does not limit anyone who is determined to achieve his dream. At the age of 36, the Nakorosule native from Naitasiri is aware of the fact that everyone is vying for a spot in Rio and using the Marist 7s to do just that.

“Marist 7s has been growing and also the level of competition is getting tough,” he said.

“With the number of young teams coming into the tournament is outstanding. I know every player is eyeing for a spot for Rio and everybody is going to showcase their talents so it will be tough for everyone. I have been playing in this tournament for many years now and I have seen a lot of changes and I’m thankful to the organisers for a great performance. If I make it or not into the 7s team; I am still happy to play for our favourite sport and that is rugby.”

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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