Naikelekelevesi Here To Inspire

Speaking to SUNsports Naikelekelevesi said young athletes of today day has the edge over the former athletes.
24 Jan 2021 14:01
Naikelekelevesi Here To Inspire
Isireli Naikelekelevesi at the ANZ Stadium, Suva on January 23, 2021. Photo: Simione Haravanua

After 10 years, three- time Olympian and 800 metres national record holder, Isireli Naikelekelevesi made a return to the tracks yesterday.

He was among the 130 athletes who took part in the Athletics Fiji competition at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

Speaking to SUNsports Naikelekelevesi said young athletes of today day has the edge over the former athletes.

“This was my first race after the 2011 South Pacific Games in New Caledonia,” he said.

“Not running for 10 years and it was the worst feeling ever for an athlete. “I have been there before so I know how hard it is but now it’s hard just to run on the track.”

Naikelekelesi said he had many fond memories of his achievements during the height of his sporting career.

“I live in the highlands of Scotland at the moment. I was in the British Army Royal Engineer before. I retired from the army a few years back and doing what I can when I can,” he said.

“For athletics you just see the times people are running, how they throw and jump, if it’s not up to the standard set by former athletes I don’t think it is getting any better.

“This is because of the facilities we have, the coaching and the amount if sporting equipment that enhance our performance.

“I think the kids of today are far better than athletes back in my days.

“They have a better chance of running faster, doing things better than the veterans.”

Right attitude

Naikelekelevesi said the reason why he ran was to help inspire children and upcoming athletics.

“At the Pacific Games, Papua New Guinea has taken the spotlight away from us when it comes to athletics,” he said.

“I’m here to encourage the young people to take up athletics because sporting events like the Coca-Cola Games and the primary school games have been able to bring people together.

“Not everyone is a good farmer, engineer and rugby player so it’s all about opportunity. If these kids train and work hard to find the right place, right attitude they’ll go further.

“Athletics taught me to believe in myself because it’s an individual sport.”

Coke Games

Meanwhile, Athletics Fiji president Filimoni Waqa said the competition was a good one.

“We have been running the competition and with the Coke Games yet to be decided not many of the athletes are here” he said.

“When the games is finalised than you will see athletes from various schools come and compete to gauge their fitness.

“As far as Coke Games is concern we are hopeful that it will soon be taking place.

“That should be finalised on Tuesday after our meeting with the Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar.”

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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