Wednesday, April 23, 2008


LIKE many athletes gearing up for the Coca-Cola Light Games this weekend, Penasio Kunabuli has one aim and that is to win gold for Nasikawa Vision College.
Penasio is not a first-timer to the Games but this could be his last and he wants it to be a memorable one.
He said ever since he started coming to take part in the Games, he has been overshadowed by the other sprinters from the big schools but he wants to make a difference this weekend.
Brought up in the village of Votua in Nadroga, Penasio has been involved in athletics since primary school.
He is also a keen rugby player but this weekend is special for the 18-year-old.
He has been training tirelessly for the popular meet and believes he has the will and strength to come first in his events.
Penasio will be taking part in the 100m, 400m and the 4x400m relay.
If the past years have not been that hard for him to win a gold medal, this year will be the toughest, especially in the blue ribbon event.
As a senior athlete, Penasio will be running against three sprinters who are gunning for the gold medal in the blue ribbon event.
The athletes who will provide the hurdles for him are Alfred Smith of Natabua High School, Setareki Tikosaya of Queen Victoria School and Ioane Dovumatua of Marist Brothers High School.
The Form Six student has been taking part in the Coke Games since Form Three and is passionate and confident.
He is actively involved in village life to keep fit and healthy.
"I was born and bred in Votua and my parents are Misiwata and Maraia Lese.
"My father is a dive master and my mother works in the hotel.
"Growing up was easy especially in the village.
"We had everything we needed to survive and life in the village was not that difficult.
"When I was a small boy, I had always wanted to play rugby.
"When I am not busy with school and rugby, I often help out with chores around the house.
"I keep fit by training."
Penasio attended primary school at St Peter Chanel at Korolevu along the Coral Coast.
He runs on the beach as part of his training and exercise.
He said preparations for the Games was tough but a challenge he is willing to encounter.
The second eldest of six children, Penasio has been in tip-top shape and believes there is no greater strength than the one given by God.
He believes hard work, dedication and confidence hold the key to success.
"Ever since I have been participating in the Games, I was mostly placed fourth in my events but this year, I will do better and I believe I can win.
"For me, nothing is impossible. I know I can improve my performance at the Games this weekend and I am looking forward to the challenge.
"I play rugby for my province Nadroga in the Under-19.
"Rugby is something I want to take up when I am older.
"Whenever I participate in my events, I don't feel nervous.
"I always try my best and I always give it my best shot.
"At the moment, I am happy I will be taking part at the Coke Games this year.
"My advice to other athletes is that nothing is impossible.
"If you work hard and set your goals, everything should work out well.
"That's the only advice I have, nothing is impossible."
Penasio and his team mates were at the national stadium this week to check their times and distances and rehearse their baton change.
They will come in again tomorrow for their final preparations before the Games start on Friday.
Penasio says only time will tell who will win the 100m on Friday and the 400m and senior boys 4x400m relay on Saturday.
And when the curtain comes down at the National Stadium, he wants a gold medal hanging from his neck to take home.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online