September 14, 2012
FASANOC joined the community of Suva in congratulating Iliesa Delana ....
On behalf of its affiliate, the Fiji Paralympic Committee, FASANOC sincerely thanks the Government of Fiji for the tremendous effort put into the program for the National Celebration for Iliesa and also thanks all Iliesa's fans for their support and messages of congratulations.
POSTED ON OCEANIA IN LONDON 2012 BY PITA LIGAIULA:
Fiji salutes Golden hero, Iliesa Delana
13 SEPTEMBER 2012 SUVA (PACNEWS) ---- Thousands braved Suva’s cold and drizzle this morning to catch a glimpse of their national hero and golden boy, Iliesa Delana, a Paralympic gold medalist, who’s brought national pride to the Pacific Island nation.
The 28-year old single amputee won gold in the F42 category high jump final at the Paralympic Games in London last month.
After his win, the government of Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama promised him national celebrations in the capital, Suva to honour his achievement, the first ever for Fiji.
Celebrations started with a procession through the main street of Suva led by the Fiji Police Band, Team Fiji to the London Olympics and various able and disabled bodied schools. It ended at the National Vodafone Arena where military and traditional ceremonies of welcome, only accorded to Heads of States, awaited Delana.
A 50-men guard of honour was mounted for Delana to inspect outside the Vodafone Arena.
More than 3,000 people that packed the arena cheered Fiji’s Golden Boy when he entered the sporting complex for the formal part of the celebrations where the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and the Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama were on hand to welcome Delana home.
In his speech, Fiji’s head of state said Delana’s win has brought a sense of pride and unity to the over 800,000 people of Fiji.
“This sense of unity and pride is greatly needed at this point in time and in pursuit towards democratic governance.
“Iliesa Delana, you not only carried the flag of our beloved Fiji, you carried all of us on your strong broad shoulders – and a leg – to a supreme high.
“On behalf of the people of Fiji, I say Iliesa Delana, you achievement, your humbleness and quiet pride has touched all of us. You are an icon, said President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
He’s called for a mind-set towards people with disabilities.
“You have made a special group of people extremely proud, and today I take confidence in suggesting that the rest of us in Fiji should change our perception towards people with special needs because it takes a person with special needs to bring glory and honor to the country, said Ratu Epeli.
Ratu Epeli said the paralympic winner exemplified Fiji’s current political situation.
“We (Fiji) were isolated, we forged new friendships and now we are getting back on track again,” Ratu Epeli said.
Commodore Bainimarama echoed the same sentiments. In his speech he told Delana, “We are trying to build a country fit for heroes and you (Delana) have showed us the way.”
Speaking to PACNEWS after the celebrations, a soft spoken but confident Delana, said he was honored to be accorded the first bowl of kava at the traditional ceremonies ahead of Fiji’s President and Prime Minister.
In his hour of honour, Delana quietly offered the first bowl to Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, out of respect.
“I asked him to please accept the first bowl,” Delana told PACNEWS when the traditional ceremony of ‘Yaqona Vakaturaga’ was presented.
“I asked him three or four times, he refused telling me to drink first. He told me to accept it, it is for me.
“I give God the glory. I didn’t expect this much crowd and a national celebration.
“I was just looking forward to a small tea-party and some congratulatory messages, Delana told PACNEWS.
Delana and his coach Fred Fatiaki were presented $10, 000 each by the Fijian Government and a promise of a new house by the Housing Authority of Fiji. Various other business houses and individuals came forward with their own gifts…..PACNEWS (PINA)
Team Fiji supports Iliesa in his ticker tape parade
FASANOC President, Vidhya Lakhan, at the VIP Lounge, Nadi Airport