Fiji Sports

Sa Moce Ana!

Fijian sports icon and hall of famer laid to rest in Lautoka WAISEA NASOKIA nadi It was a sea of Bula colours as close friends and families came in huge
24 Jul 2014 08:08

Fijian sports icon and hall of famer laid to rest in Lautoka


Birch family members during the late Ana Ramacake Birch’s memorial service at Tavakubu cemetary in Lautoka yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

It was a sea of Bula colours as close friends and families came in huge numbers to bid farewell to one of Fiji’s true sporting icons Ana Ramacake Birch, who was laid to rest yesterday.
Those present including people from the tourism industry filled the Nasareci Methodist Church in Namaka to the brim where Reverend James Baghwan led the celebration service of the late Ana Birch who was later laid to rest at the Tavakubu cemetery in Lautoka.
Eulogies were presented by Sereani Bainimara, Andrew Thomson, Alice Heffernan, Akanisi Koroitamana, and Emele Biutoko who all praised her life of 76 years (December 24, 1937 – July 17, 2014).
Ana was a born true athlete, as she was part of the Lomavata athletic team in the Suva weekly competition in the 1950’s.
Her performance earned her a spot to make her national debut at the age of 29 at the inaugural 1963 South Pacific Games (now the Pacific Games) in the grass tracks at the then Buckhurst Park in Suva.
She made a mark winning a haul of five medals – two gold’s in the 100m (12.2 sec) and 4 x 100m relay (Margaret Vakalala, Eleanor Philips, two silver in the long jump and 200m and a bronze in the 80 meter hurdle.
In the 1966 SPG in Noumea, New Caledonia, she claimed two golds (long jump 5.51m and 4 X 100m with Ulamila Toroki, Torika Varo and Iona Mitchell) and two silver medals (100m, 200m).
In that same year she travelled to Kingston, Jamaica all alone, without a manager or coach to represent Fiji for the British Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games).
Months later she competed at the New Zealand Championships where she won the gold medal in the long jump with 5.89 metres, a New Zealand national record, which was not recognised since she was a Fiji citizen.
At the 1967 National Easter Championships, she set a national long jump record of 5.93 metres, which still stood at the time of her induction.
She also set a 200 metre national, native and all-comers record of 24.6 seconds, which was broken 25 years later.
In 1993 she was inducted into the FASANOC Hall Of Fame for her contribution to sport.
The pioneer sprint champion Ana Ramacake hailed from Visama in Tailevu and was educated at Lelean Memorial School.
She worked at the CWM Hospital as a telephone operator before joining the radiologist department.
The late Ana Birch passed away on Thursday morning last week. Destiny or not, it would seem she did not set out to be a legend; it just happened that way and she will be missed.
She is survived by her husband John, two daughters Angela, Andrea and grandchild Meretalei.
The Birch family are among the pioneers of the tourism industry in Fiji having owned Sandalwood Lodge until sold to the Vision Group this year.

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