For Chef de Mission Sale Sorovaki, exposure is the goal for the 28 athletes and 9 staff travelling to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan tomorrow. The games start on the 17th of September with a blessing ceremony held at Borron House today to farewell the athletes. The two key messages from President George Konrote to the team were to champion the environment and to be role models of a healthy lifestyle, to inspire Fijians to eat healthy and keep fit. While this team may have less resources than other nations the President’s message was that the athletes had the opportunity to inspire their fellow countrymen and women through their efforts.
Over the last three months athletes from four disciplines: athletics, swimming, tennis and weightlifting have been in their separate programmes preparing. For tennis the main aim is to give athletes an opportunity to experience international competition with some players not having competed outside of Fiji. The weightlifting team’s recent success at the Commonwealth and Oceania Championships has set them up well. However in this competition Sorovaki says, they will have the opportunity to “compete against the best.” The athletics and swimming teams are very young with Sorovaki’s main goal for the athletes being to gain experience. This is echoed by Epeli Rabua who is competing in the swimming team, wishing to gain exposure in international competitions. Normally competing in long course, Rabua’s goal is to gain experience in a new environment, competing in the short course. While the Asian games do not influence Commonwealth Games selection for Rabua, in speaking to Sorovaki, for many of the athletes this competition is a stepping stone to get better, faster and stronger before the Pacific Mini games in December and the Commonwealth Games next year.
Story by: Rosalie Willis
Photo by: Ivamere Rokovesa