Koya Welcomes World’s Best At Denarau
Fiji has fielded a team of nine athletes for the first time at the 2016 Fiji ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship, which began off at Port Denarau yesterday. The competition was inaugurated at the Rhum-Ba Restaurant, by the Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Faiyaz Koya and the ISA president Fernando Aguerre. Koya welcomed the participants from 26 national SUP and paddleboard teams, which included 244 athletes. They will be competing in the SUP surfing, SUP racing and paddleboard racing for the week of competition.
“We are proud to host such a prestigious event, I hope you all have a successful tournament in wonderful Fiji,” Koya told the participants.
He also thanked Tourism Fiji chief executive Matthew Stoeckel for organising the event.
“I understand there are 26 different countries with 244 participants that are involved in the competition and yes coming from Puerto Rico to Slovenia, so it’s wonderful to see you all here,” Koya added. He said SUP was a growing water sport in the world and anticipated in becoming an Olympic event in the future. The event will contribute to the mainstreaming of the sport at international level. Aguerre said the competition was Olympic spirited and it was a step forward to their vision of pushing it into Olympic inclusion. “I am very happy to be here and for the very first time ISA has come to Fiji so it’s a long trip for us. Some of us have been impressed by Fiji’s crystal clear water and powerful waves so coming here is very special and exciting,” Aguerre said.
A participant from Team Fiji, Egi Tikoi Todd says, she was happy that locals were being exposed to the competition as it was brought to our shores. “We are a small island nation sometimes we are not able to get out of here to compete in the events like this and to bring the sport back home allows us to compete and involve ourselves in the international market,” she said.
Also present at the panel was the 2015, World SUP Championship gold medallist, Izzi Gomez, Casper Steinfeth- ISA vice-president, a gold medallist who is also representing Denmark. The opening ceremony at Port Denarau was led by the Fiji Police Band as the official parade of nations took place. The competition will take place in various locations. Edited by Leone Cabenatabua
From left: 2015 World SUP Championship gold medallist Izzi Gomez, Tourism Fiji chief executive Matthew Stoeckel, Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources, Faiyaz Koya, ISA p resident Fernando Aguerre, Casper Steinfeth- ISA vice president, a gold medallist who is also representing Denmark and Team Fiji’s, Egi Tikoi Todd at the Rhum-Ba Restaurant at Port Denarau Marina on Denarau Island yesterday.