Fiji Paralympic gold medallist being rewarded for London 2012 success with new house

Friday, 14 December 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Iliesa Delana celebrating gold medal London 2012December 14 - Fiji's Government has promised to build a new house for Iliesa Delana, who made history at London 2012 when he won the country's first ever medal in the Paralympics by taking gold in the F42 high jump.

The 27-year-old, who lost his left leg in a bus accident at the age of three, has since become a national hero and is being rewarded with the new home.

Three companies have agreed to support construction works worth more than $8,000 (£5,000/€6,000).

Dwain Qalovaki, the head of Fiji's Housing Authority, revealed that Sam Ross Consultants and Property Management had volunteered to build a driveway with wheelchair access in front of the property valued at $2,900 (£1,700/€2,200).

Reddy Diamond will be contributing roof covering materials valued at $2,866 (£1,772/€2,177).

A further $1,500 (£928/€1,140) in building materials will be contributed by Vinod Patel.

"So far the financial and in-kind contributions have amounted to almost $8,000 (£5,000/€6,000) and we are working with the military engineers to ensure that we complete the house before Christmas," said Qalovaki.

Upon his return to Fiji from London, Delana had been welcomed by thousands of people for national celebrations which included a procession through the main street of Suva and military and traditional ceremonies of welcome, only normally accorded to Heads of States.

Iliesa Delana celebrations SuvaIliesa Delana has become a national hero in Fiji after winning the country's first-ever Paralympic gold medal at London 2012

Delana was also invited to inspect a 50-strong honour guard.

Fiji's President Epeli Nailatikau delivered a speech describing Delana as a national "icon", adding that he had brought to the country a "sense of unity and pride...greatly needed at this point in time and in pursuit towards democratic governance", in the context of constitutional change following the 2006 military coup and plans for the restoration of democracy in 2014.

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