Coke Games 2022

Bittersweet memory for blue ribbon champion

August 21, 2022 11:03 am

Girls senior division blue ribbon champion Kesaia Boletanakadavu [middle ]

Girls senior division blue ribbon champion Kesaia Boletanakadavu will always have a bittersweet memory of this historic win.

On one hand she is celebrating the first blue ribbon win at the Fiji Finals for Mahatma Gandhi Memorial School, while on the other she is mourning the loss of her first athletics coach Joni Tabakau.

The news of Boletanakadavu’s former coach’s tragic death came a few hours after her gold medal win.

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The MGM sprinter the late Tabakau played an instrumental role in her athletics journey when she moved from Kadavu Provincial Secondary School to Adi Cakobau School, before winning Gold for MGM this year.

“There were a lot of challenges we faced in Kadavu as we did not have a proper training facility. My coach pushed me throughout my training in Kadavu. There’s no ice bath in Kadavu and he’d take us to the sea after training to cool down. That’s how I shot up in athletics and was scouted by ACS.”

Boletanakadavu says little did she know that her former coach was watching her on TV from his home in Kadavu.

She adds the news of his passing came a few hours after her win.

“He saw the talent in me even when I didn’t realize it. The win yesterday is for him as well.”

Boletanakadavu is confident her win is the beginning for many non-traditional schools to make their mark and upset the usual favorites in this annual event.

“I have no doubt this is the beginning for non-traditional schools to cause major upsets in the biggest inter-secondary school meet in Fiji. There’s talent everywhere, we just need to tap into it.”

The reigning girl’s blue ribbon champ says preparation will continue as she hopes to make the final squad for next year’s Pacific Games.

MGM recorded its highest ever finish at the Fiji Finals by winning three gold and 1 silver in the boys division.

In the girls division, MGM won 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.