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September 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Golden boy Iliesa Delana was showered with gifts, cash prizes and promised a house and land during his gold medal win celebration in Suva today.

Housing Authority in a joint-intiative with the Fiji Government, offered Delana a house and land package at their Tacirua East Stage 1 where development works are still in progress. The house will be ready by December for Delana to move into.

Besides the house, the 27-year-old Nadrala villager from Nadroga was presented $20K - $5K each from HFC and ATH and $10K from the Fiji Govt.

Delana was also presented gifts by overseas ambassadors to Fiji who were in attendance and members of the public with the Fiji Military overseeing the ‘veiqaravi vakavanua’.

Addressing the crowd who were gathered at the Vodafone Arena, an emotional Delana  said, “Seeing the Fiji flag fly high in the arena and the national anthem being echoed in front of more than 80,000 people in London is a victory not for me but for Fiji.”

“This showed that Fiji is the way the world should be. I am just overwhelmed with the support and well-wishes and I am honoured to be an ambassador of Fiji.”

The President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, the Prime Minister Voreqe Banimarama, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum accompanied by their wives, government officials as well as overseas ambassadors to Fiji were on hand to celebrate the day with students and thousands of fans.

In his address, Fiji’s President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau told Delana that, “Your win has elevated Fiji, a small dot on the vast Pacific ocean.”

He also emphasised that a person with special needs has brought joy, glory and honour to Fiji and people with special needs require empathy and not sympathy.

He congratulated Delana on behalf of the citizens of Fiji not only for winning a gold medal at the Paralympics but also bringing the whole nation together and strengthening the unity between them at this crucial time.

“We (Fiji) were isolated, we forged new friendships and now we are getting back on track again,” Nailatikau added.

Bainimarama echoed the same sentiments. In his speech told Delana, “We are trying to build a country fit for heroes and you (Delana) have showed us the way.”

The 3-hour celebration began with a march through Suva City from the Flea Market to Albert Park after which Delana was whisked off to the Vodafone Arena for the formal celebration.

Delana was accompanied by his coach Freddy Fatiaki at the celebration. Delana had set a new record in the 2012 London Paralympics men's F42 high jump classification with a height of 1.74m to clinch gold - a first for Fiji and the Pacific Island nations.

By Indrani Krishna


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