Koya Wel­comes World’s Best At Denarau

Fiji Sun - - Sport - AR­ISHMA DEVI-NARAYAN Feed­back: ar­ishma.narayan@fi­jisun.com.fj

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.

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