A Fijian girl has done very well at the Australian Athletics Championship meet in Brisbane and won a goldmedal in the 200. Vinaka Makelesi. We saw it on SBS TV yesterday.
Sprint queen creates history
Monday, March 03, 2008
MAKELESI Bulikiobo Batimala became the first Fiji athlete to win an Australian Athletics Championship title after clinching the 200 metres in Brisbane at the weekend. The South Pacific Games champion clocked 23.76 seconds against a head wind of -0.4 to edge out Monique Williams of New Zealand (23.79s) and Olivia Tauro of Australia (23.86s).
Earlier in the week, the former Natabua High School student came second in the 400m in 52.76 seconds. She was beaten by Victoria's Tamsyn Lewis who won the race in a time of 51.44s.
FASANOC vice president Atma Maharaj said the achievement was a milestone in the history of Fiji athletics. "This is the first time ever a Fijian athlete has won an Australian championship dating back to 1950 when the original Flying Fijian Josefa Levula came second to Hector Hogan," Maharaj said. "We have had several athletes like Jone Delai, Sireli Naikelekelevesi, Rachael Rogers and many more get placing at Australian championships but this is the first time we have won an event."
The win ends Batimala's phase one preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics on a high and adds to her numerous wins in Queensland where she is based.
Athletics Fiji secretary Albert Miller said Batimala had shown a lot of improvement over the past few months.
"To be Australian champion is a great achievement and not most South Pacific athletes have achieved that goal," Miller said.
"Makelesi is the second athlete from the South Pacific behind Ana Pohila who won the women's shot put at the championship last year.
"Things are looking positive for her and hopefully she improves as she heads into the Olympics."
Batimala will now travel to Europe where she competes in the World Indoor Athletics Championship in Spain next week. Maharaj said the Suva Grammar School teacher will be the second Fijian athlete to compete at a World Indoor Athletics Championship since Saimoni Tamani in 1970-1971.
Miller said Batimala had laid a good foundation heading into the Palau Veldromo Luis Puig."This will be her first indoor competition and a new experience for her. Hopefully she does well."
Batimala will return to Fiji on March 13 for a two week break before returning to Australia on March 30 to begin phase two of her preparations. In July, she will head to Europe to compete before going to the Beijing Olympic which will be held from August 8 to 24.