Fiji Time: 3:36 PM on Monday 2 May

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A great sporting spectacle

Fred Wesley
Monday, May 02, 2016

You've got to hand it to the movers and shakers behind Marist Brothers' High School's remarkable comeback.

They sniffed a winner. They made appropriate plans to engage in battle discussions very early, planned and executed their plans well.

And at the end of the annual Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics Finals on Saturday, they had victory in the bag. In fact, indications are they were sitting pretty comfortably by the end of the second day of competition. They had seen what needed to be done to consolidate their position on the final day.

And when it mattered the most, they understood how to motivate their team to inch past the barrier that separates champions. It was encouraging to see another Fiji Finals. And as usual, the atmosphere was magical. Fans lapped up the fun, friendly rivalry, the emotions on display, and the competition on the track and field.

Runners ran like the wind, throwers backed themselves with power and jumpers reached out for the skies. Every year we converge on a venue to celebrate the great sporting spirit that unfolds at the Fiji Finals.

We celebrate with fun, joy and laughter, embracing athleticism, raw power, and grace. We celebrate all that is good about sports. Every year we embrace unity that emanates from this mega event. And every year, the Fiji Finals does not disappoint us.

It is an opportunity for former scholars to engage in something that involves their school. Whether it provides them an opportunity to be young again is probably up for debate. But when one considers what it is that makes the Fiji Finals so special, then you cannot really shrug off the fact that people matter.

There is a rollercoaster ride of sorts. Emotions hit a peak at the games. They make the Fiji Finals the special event it has turned out to be over the years.

People make it what it is now.

From the movers and shakers in the background, the games officials, team officials, former scholars, supporters, parents and guardians, fans and sponsors, everyone has a little piece to play in ensuring this platform exists for our children. So now that we are past that, and congratulate Marist and Jasper Williams High School for coming out champions this year, perhaps we should ask the tough question — where to from here?

Clearly the new format, where medals are awarded to winners is already reaping rewards for athletics. It has ensured individual athletes have an equal platform to achieve their goals and live their dreams.

It has ensured athletes from relatively unknown schools can win gold. That in the long term effectively opens up the field, which is good for athletics and for our nation. There is a huge following out there. Every year this fact is reaffirmed by attendance figures at the Fiji Finals. The issue though is how do we get that across to the national level, out of the Fiji Finals?

That must be a challenge that someone out there is geared up for. For the sake of our athletes, and for the country at international level, there needs to be some effort channelled towards making this a reality.

Congratulations are in order for all the winners at the Fiji Finals 2016. For those who fell short, remember you were part of a great sporting spectacle.

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