Fiji National University’s (FNU) Associate Dean Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Eric Jioje is guiding Fiji’s powerlifting team at the ongoing 17th Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.
Elite athlete turned national coach, who is also a Senior Instructor – Food and Beverage at the College of Business, Hospitality and Tourism Studies (CBHTS) is humbled to be given the opportunity to mentor the Fijian powerlifters.
Jioje, whose career in powerlifting began in 2002 after learning that Fiji would be hosting the South Pacific Games (SPG) in Suva that year, explained that this was the year, the Fiji Powerlifting Federation (FPF) began scouting for potential powerlifting athletes to join the team to partake in the SPG.
“When I started working for the Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT) in 2000, I continued to do my weight training after ‘hanging my boots’ from playing rugby league.”
“In early 2002, I attended my first training, I didn’t do well but I suppose our national coach back then, Eliesa Irava, saw potential in me and recruited me into the team. I had to sacrifice a lot of things during this time but participating in the 2003 SPG is still the highlight of my sporting career.”
He was then exposed to more tournaments, thereafter, competing in the 2004 Oceania Powerlifting Championship in Suva, the 2005 Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship in England, the 2010 Oceania Games in Samoa, the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia, the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea and the 2019 Oceania Regional Powerlifting Championship in Gold Coast Australia where he competed in the 120kg Class and scooped Gold.
“I was approached in 2019 by FPF and the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) to coach the Fiji powerlifting team to the 2019 Pacific Games held in Samoa – that was my first coaching stint,” he explained.
“This continues until today as I prepare the team for the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands. I guess competing at a high level for 16 years; I think it’s time for me to give back to the sport of powerlifting in Fiji and to the community.”
“Competing at national or international championships and representing my country, Fiji, is a significant honour and this also applies to representing FNU. Wherever I go in the region or internationally, I will always give back to FNU and what the University has done for me.”
Jioje also paid a special tribute to his wife, Rosalia Fatiaki, the FNU family and his parents before departing the country yesterday.