Monday, January 31, 2011

Fiji celebrates history-making win from Paralympian

From The Fiji Times:

Iliesa Delana (pictured) created history in New Zealand by winning a Silver Medal at the World Paralympics Championships, which was held in Christchurch.

Delana's achievement was the best ever from a Fiji disabled athlete.

The 26-year old said his achievement on Saturday was only made possible through hard work.

Delana said he knew he would be competing against some of the best athletes in the world but was confident of achieving his aim.

"Before leaving for the games I stated that I would be aiming to create history and I cannot ask for more after winning the silver medal," the Nadrala man from Nadroga said.

"I want to thank my coaches and my sponsors for helping me prepare and travel for the competition but most importantly I would like to thank the Lord for giving me the power and strength to stand up and compete in a top competition like this.

"The World Championships is the biggest competition for disabled athletes and I'm thrilled to be given the opportunity to compete against the best from around the world," Delana said.

"I've been competing in international disabled competitions since 2006 and I knew what to expect in New Zealand," he said.

Delana said the second place finish in Christchurch was not the end of the road for him but was an inspiration to continue and aim for a better finish in his next international competition.

Delana jumped 1.73 metres behind Guo Weizhong of China who took gold with a jump of 1.76 meters.

The good performance last weekend has qualified Delana a place in the 2012 Paralympics Championships in London.

Delana's coach SainianaTukana said they would now turn their focus to the 2012 London games.

Tukana said Delana and Lusiana Oli performed to their best and even though Oli was not in medal contention she was able to achieve her personal best.

Oli competed in the T36 100 and 200 meters event.

Digicel chief excutive David Butler said Delana's achievement was the best ever from a disabled athlete representing Fiji.

"So we are very proud to be associated with Delana and the Fiji Paralympics team to the World Championships in New Zealand.

"What he achieved was absolute incredible and Digicel is proud to be associated with him," Butler said.

Before leaving for New Zealand, Digicel signed Delana on as an employee.

Competing in international competitions is not new for Delana. He has participated at the Paralympic Games, FESPIC Games and the Arafura Games.

Fiji Paralympics training officer Freddy Fatiaki said Delana's achievement was a boost to other disabled athletes who will represent Fiji to the Pacific Games in New Caledonia this year.