Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Iliesa Delana won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. UK. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU
A FIJIAN athlete, Member of the Parliament of Fiji, and Cabinet Minister, Iliesa Delana was the first Fijian athlete to win a gold medal in high jump, for Fiji at the Summer Paralympics in 2012.
On the back page of The Fiji Times January 5, 2011 paper, Delana who was one of the paralympics hopefuls at the time was being presented with sporting equipment by telecommunications company Digicel to help in their preparation towards the 2012 Summer Paralympics .
Recounting those training days, Delana said it was a challenge especially for athletes with disabilities.
“We were not a big sporting organisation that got a lot of support unlike rugby which has a lot of following,” he said.
“But I thank the Fiji National Sports Commission and the Governement as well as corporate organisations for being there.
“They helped us a lot. Our performance at the Paralympics really paved the way for other athletes with disabilities to gain recognition and financial support and it’s great to see this today.”
Describing his gold medal win, the 32-year-old said it was a performance that came on the back of hard work and never taking failure as an easy way out.
“My advice to athletes is to remember that during your sporting career, your perfomance over the last three years will not come back, age is going to catch up so take every opportunity to perform above your abilities during your peaking time and use your time wisely.”
Delana was born in Naisausau, Namara, Tailevu, Fiji.
He lost his left leg in a bus accident at the age of three. He later went on to win a silver medal at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand, and then a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.
Going into the games ranked number two in the world, Delana jumped 1.74m to win the gold on count back, after clearing all heights up to and including 1.74m on his first attempts.
His jump of 1.74m broke the Oceania record for the event.