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