Since I lost my dad, I had been com­pet­ing through­out and never had time to mourn prop­erly-Matelita Buadromo.

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Grace By Narayan Edited by Osea Bola

Matelita Buadromo aims to be­come the first Fi­jian swim­mer to qual­ify by merit for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Ja­pan.

The two-time Olympian won her first gold at the 2019 Pa­cific Games in Samoa in the 200me­tres freestyle event.

Af­ter the death of her dad, Akuila be­fore the 2016 Rio Olympic Games she made it her goal to in­spire other ath­letes in the coun­try that it is pos­si­ble for swim­mers to qual­ify through merit.

The 23-year old stu­dent of the Uni-ver­sity of the South Pa­cific is study­ing Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment and Psy­chol­ogy and hails from Naroi, Moala in Lau while her mum is from Ro­tuma.

She started com­pet­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally at 11 and shares her ex­pe­ri­ences, chal­lenges and achieve­ments.

SUN: Over­view of what you do. Matelita: Well! Apart from swim­ming I am on my sec­ond year study­ing Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment and Psy­chol­ogy at USP. And for part time, I as­sist Fiji Swim­ming devel­op­ing young swim­mers which in­cludes or­gan­is­ing work­shops and train­ing ses­sions. SUN: What mo­ti­vates you to do what you do? What are you most ex­cited or pas­sion­ate about?

Matelita: My older sis­ter Joe­lyn in­spired me to take up swim­ming.

I wasn’t re­ally en­joy­ing it un­til I watched my sis­ter and other swim­mers so com­mit­ted to the sport and now I can’t just live with­out it. My older sis­ter rep­re­sented Fiji at 12. SUN: What are the goals you most want to ac­com­plish in your work? Not so much the goals that are in your job descriptio­n, but the goals you hold per­son­ally.?

Matelita: At the mo­ment my aim is to be the first swim­mer in Fiji to qual­ify for the 2020 Olympics on merit.

I be­lieve no one has done that be­fore and I am con­fi­dent of mak­ing it. We have so much po­ten­tial in the coun­try but we need to put more work into the de­vel­op­ment as­pect of it. We don’t re­alise how much we can ac­com­plish from any sport and there’s where my in­ter­est lies in devel­op­ing young tal­ents for the fu­ture. SUN: What were you do­ing pre­vi­ously?

Matelita: Dur­ing my pri­mary school days at Veiuto Pri­mary, I took part in hockey and ath­let­ics. When I was 14 I first rep­re­sented Fiji at the Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onship and ever since I be­came hooked on swim­ming. Dur­ing my first Pa­cific Games in New Cale­do­nia in 2011, I won 4 bronze and 2 sil­ver medals. In 2012 I com­peted as a wild­card

en­try in the World Champs. I was the am­bas­sador for young ath­letes and that’s where my in­ter­est for the de­vel­op­ment of young ath­letes came about.

In 2016 in PNG I won 2 bronze and one sil­ver.

In 2018 I won bronze at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Gold Coast. And at the re­cent Pa­cific Games in Samoa I won 2 gold, 4 sil­ver and 2 bronze medals. SUN: Where did you grow up, coun­tries vis­ited?

Matelita: I was bred and born in Suva. My mother was a nurse by pro­fes­sion and my dad worked for the United Na­tions so hardly got to see him a lot.

I lost my dad be­fore the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It was a very hard time in my life but grow­ing up in a strict fam­ily en­abled me to stay com­mit­ted to what I have achieved in life to­day.

Coun­tries that I have been to are Aus­tralia, New Zealand, France, Hun­gary, Rus­sia, Aus­tria, China, Korea, Sin­ga­pore, and Turk­menistan SUN: Did you have any key men­tors or peo­ple who deeply in­flu­enced who you are, what you be­lieve in and what you’re com­mit­ted to in your

work and life? Matelita: My mother Tipo Buadromo had been my great­est men­tor, my sis­ter Joe­lyn and coach Sharon Smith. These peo­ple had been very in­flu­en­tial in my life.

SUN: Life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and chal­lenges.

Matelita: Los­ing my dad be­fore the 2016 Rio Olympic Games was a very hard time in my life and ever since I had been com­pet­ing through­out and never had time to mourn prop­erly which has been af­fect­ing me for so long. And also for this year’s Pa­cific Games I pre­pared re­ally hard for it that is how I was able to ac­com­plish my goal.I am ac­tu­ally grate­ful for all the hard­ships I went through as it made me a stronger per­son now. SUN: As an ac­tive woman in­volved in sports pre­vi­ously and now, how does you see or an­a­lyze the role of women in sports specif­i­cally in Fiji and how im­por­tant is it to en­cour­age more woman tak­ing up roles in var­i­ous sport­ing fed­er­a­tions?

Matelita: I think it is very im­por­tant for women to take up lead­er­ship roles in sports be­cause there is still a whole lot of peo­ple that don’t re­alise just how much strength and power women do have and it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be in sport­ing field.

But for some woman they need to be en­cour­aged to step up and ig­nore stereo­typ­ing mind­set some peo­ple have to­wards them, they sim­ply have it in them. Any­thing is pos­si­ble and noth­ing should stop them from liv­ing their dream. SUN: When you think of the fu­ture of the kind of work you’ve talked about here, what gives you a sense of hope? What’s next for you in your work? What are you look­ing for­ward to?

Matelita: I’m just look­ing for­ward to devel­op­ing swim­ming and tak­ing it to an­other level. Also, at the same time be­come the bet­ter ver­sion of my­self.

From left; Coach Sharon Smith and Matelita Buadromo dur­ing the 2019 Pa­cific Games in Apia, Samoa.

Matelita Buadromo in ac­tion dur­ing the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games in Gold Coast, Aus­tralia.

Matelita Buadromo poses proudly with the Fiji flag af­ter win­ning her first gold medal dur­ing the 2019 Pa­cific Games in Apia, Samoa.

Matelita Buadromo

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