THE Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics Finals ended on a high note yesterday after three days of explosive nail-biting action in the track and field events.
Thousands of people made their way to the National Stadium in Suva to witness one of the biggest sports gatherings of the year and show their support for their respective school teams.
From the grandstand to the corporate box and pavilion seatings, the cheers, chants and occasional impromptu dances kept the spirit of the games alive.
Security was very tight and expected given the multitude of people that flocked to the event and the eventual celebrations that followed.
The young ladies from Sawani stamped their dominance in the girls division with 20 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze medals ahead of last year's champs Jasper Williams in second place and St Joseph's Secondary School in third. The lads from Flagstaff fought bravely to maintain their lead in the boys division but things quickly turned in favour of a West victory, Natabua High School upsetting Marist Brothers High School to take out the boys title with 12 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze medals while RKS came in strong this year but settled for third place.
Today, the highlight of the games will still be one of the most talked about topics around the tanoa. Athletes, coaches and school management will definitely make use of the coming days to unwind from months and, for some, a year of hard work and dedication.
Some would perhaps use this experience to improve their techniques, performance and coaching methods in preparation for next year's event.
Whatever the case, one thing is certain. The Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics Finals showcased the huge potential of our young talents in this genre of sports.
Of course, some athletes had it tough during preparations in terms of resources, facilities and funding but they showed up at the games determined to give it their best shot. Now that the games are over, it is important to realise that these athletes are still school-aged and education will definitely need to be on their priority list as they complete the rest of the academic year.
Finding the right balance in life will be a challenge for them. But the right attitude, mind-set, commitment and support can go a long way to achieving one's goals and overcoming those challenges.
There are many lessons we can take from the athletics meet and one of those is accepting the outcome of the games with humility, grace and exercising good sportsmanship, win or lose.
These traits are often difficult to portray in life and especially at an event such as the national athletics meet because it usually means battling ego, pride and the competitive streak that usually creep in when the momentum is high or when unforseen circumstances are not in favour of a particular athlete or school.
Social media will no doubt be inundated with opinions, some backlash included.
At the end of the day, let us take this time to appreciate the immense talent and effort of each participant at the games this year.