Fijians at the Olympic Games

FIJI has come a long way since we first participated in the Olympics in 1956.

In 1960, Fiji sent two representatives, both were from athletics. They were Mesulame Rakuro and Sitiveni Moceidreka.

Here’s what The Fiji Times wrote about sprinter Moceidreka a month before the Olympics in Rome.

On July 4, 1960, The Fiji Times reported that Sitiveni Moceidreka, 23 of Nadi may represent Fiji in the sprint events at the Olympic Games in Rome.

Three days later this newspaper reported that the Nadi airport Olympic appeal committee had collected about 120 pounds from boxes placed at “strategic points”.

They were going to have a barbecue with a Burness from Tailevu providing a cow for the beef steak.

A dance was also to be held at the Nadi Airport Club to support the cause.

On July 14, it was reported that Nadi had raised about 400 pounds for Moceidreka. A street appeal in Suva raised about 175 pounds.

“The Australian Olympic Federation has advised that it will be unable to assist the Fiji team either to or from Rome,” this newspaper reported.

L. O Simpson, who was organising the appeal, was quoted as saying that if Fiji was to participate, each member had to pay about 725 pounds.

“The staff and teachers of the CMS, and teachers from the NTC and Suva Grammar School assisted with the Suva street appeal,” this newspaper reported.

There was also a two pound donation from a Dr Gopalan and one pound from a J M Watson.

A carnival was planned in Ba to assist in the fundraising.

“It is most likely that sufficient funds will be raised to ensure that Sitiveni will take part in the Olympic Games but unless funds come to hand in the next two weeks, it is unlikely that the number two choice, Mesulame Rakuro can be sent,” Simpson was quoted as saying.

“Mesulame’s presence at Rome would be an important psychological prop to Sitiveni when he makes his debut in international athletics, and sportsmen from all parts of the colony are requested to support the Olympic appeal and thus ensure that both members of Fiji’s team goes to Rome.”

Both athletes eventually participated in the games. On August 15, this newspaper reported Moceidreka’s success in Australia.

It had a picture of Moceidreka and a caption story, which said: “Sitiveni Moceidreka, Fiji Olympic Games sprinter, who won a 100 metres race in 10.4s, a fraction outside the Australian record at Newcastle yesterday.

“On Saturday, at Sydney, in bad weather, he beat a strong field of Australian sprinters in 10.6s over 100m in his first competitive run on cinders.

“Later on Saturday, Sitiveni was second in the 200m.”

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