Captain of Team Fiji’s swim team, Epeli Rabua has announced his retirement after a 15-year career, marked by his leadership in two South Pacific Games in 2019 and 2023.
The 25-year-old, while reflecting on his journey, shared, “The last 15 years have been fulfilling. I’ve learned a lot, made good friendships, and achieved plenty. It’s going to be hard to leave.”
His tenure in swimming has been characterized by significant achievements and personal growth, offering him experiences beyond his expectations.
Looking forward, Rabua plans to remain connected to the sport in a managerial capacity.
“After retiring, I hope to officiate the sport, maybe as a team manager. With my competition-level experience and understanding of various people, I can put that knowledge to good use,” he said, aiming to leverage his athlete’s perspective in a leadership role.
The 2023 South Pacific Games (SPG) held special significance for Rabua, leading a younger team compared to the more experienced squad in 2019.
“It was a great experience this year. We were quite happy with the results, grabbing two gold medals and other medals, Yes, we did not match our 2019 performance where we won 6 gold medals but we are proud”
Rabua also spoke about the challenges faced by the team, including inadequate training facilities and limited bonding time.
“We didn’t have a proper competition pool. We had to use the public Olympic pool, which wasn’t ideal for controlled training, we trained in the afternoon and sometimes all of a sudden it would get full because it’s a public general pool and we can’t really stop them from crossing the lanes or the pool,”
“And as a team, we didn’t have much bonding time together, we only met fully as a team when we were flying out to Solomon islands so there was less preparation time for us as a team. Most of us were occupied with exams and stuff so that was one of the biggest hindrance’s in terms of team preparations,” he explained.
Despite these obstacles, Rabua’s leadership and the team’s resilience shone through, making his final SPG a memorable one.