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Bronze Medal Winner Only Received Bus Fare Assistance In Preparation For Games

Albert Miller is making a call for improved fund alloca­tion, as per last month's national budget following third time flag bearer, Naibili Vatunisolo's bronze medal win, at the Commonwealth Games at Birmingham yester­day (Wednesday, United Kingdom time).
06 Aug 2022 10:16
Bronze Medal Winner Only Received Bus Fare Assistance In Preparation For Games
2022 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Naibili Vatunisolo, in Birmingham, England

Albert Miller is making a call for improved fund alloca­tion, as per last month’s national budget following third time flag bearer, Naibili Vatunisolo’s bronze medal win, at the Commonwealth Games at Birmingham yester­day (Wednesday, United Kingdom time).

Vatunisolo, 31, won a bronze medal for Fiji in F42 ambulant women’s discus finals in her debut Common­wealth Games.

Fiji has so far bagged four medals- two silver (women and men’s sevens) and two bronze (weightlifter Taniela Rainibogi and Vatunisolo).

Decathlete and former Olympian and currently the vice-president of the Oceania Masters Athletics Asso­ciation, Miller had provided techni­cal assistance to Vatunisolo in 2018.

“Naibili’s achievement is as good as any a bled bodied athlete yet while preparing for the Commonwealth all she got was bus fare assistance,” athletics coach Miller said yesterday.

“Her achievement is a lesson, those in authority should review how funds are allocated, compare her preparations with other sports and how they have performed at the Games,” he said.

“All she received while training for the Commonwealth was bus fare al­lowance, with that she won a bronze.

“With her physical ability and had she had a bit of weightlifting she could have achieved better.

“Then this is the first time she is throwing discus; she is always doing shot put. There is so much focus on regular sports but if you evaluate their performance, it does not justify the amount of money allocated to them.”

Vatunisolo had won gold in shot put at the recent Pacific Mini Games in Saipan. She was also the flag bearer there.

The first time she was a flag bearer was at the 2019 Arafura Games in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

The Balenabelo, Koroinasau, Nadroga woman following her bronze win said: “I’m super excited.”

“I want to thank my family and friends back at home for their sup­port and to my coach Fred Fatiaki for the commitment for the past few weeks and months that we’ve been training and preparing for this Commonwealth Games,” she said.

“This is my first Commonwealth Games. Competition was tough. I will go back and train for the next World Championship.”

For Vatunisolo, her competing as a Para athletic was the result of a twist in fate back in 2012 following an operation to her leg.

According to her father former Nadroga and Police rugby rep Marika Tagicakibau his first born was a good netball player growing up.

“While attending John Wesley Primary she was coached by Milika Munivai, representing the school and Suva schools,” he said.

Standing at five feet 11, Vatunisolo plays Goal Keeper and Goal Defend.

“Her aspirations to be a national netball rep did not happen due to an injury that took long to heal after developing into a huge boil,” he said.

“She was admitted (to hospital) but after the operation she had the deformity.

She was lucky to be picked out by the Fiji Disabled As­sociation and she has been with them since.

We thank God for using her (Naibili) to bring glory to our beloved nation, her vanua and family,” he added.

Feedback: karalaini.waqanidrola@fijisun.com.fj



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