Fiji aiming for historic Olympic quota in T.aekwondo

In a bid to qualify for Paris 2024, the Fiji Taekwondo Association will send athletes to a taekwondo training camp in the Solomon Islands, funded by World Taekwondo in partnership with the International Olympic Committee's Olympic Solidarity Programme, the FASANOC reports.

Fiji Taekwondo Association President Nimesh Narayan said this was a historic opportunity for Fiji and the sport. "It won't be easy because they will still have to compete with other athletes from other Pacific Island nations who will also be vying for this opportunity," he said. 

"All these athletes hoping to make it to the Olympics will also be attending this camp, so it is a great opportunity for our athletes to gauge their competition and prepare themselves for this great opportunity." The Solomon Islands training camp will be held in Honiara and will host six countries from Oceania over a two-week period. 

The camp will be led by Professor Jeong-Woo Jeon of Kyung Hee University, who was the coach of the 2004 Olympic national team in Korea, and Lee Dong-wan, who has coached the Chinese national team, Taiwanese national team, and Hong Kong and Korean national teams. 

Team Fiji Taekwondo coach Sanghyun Ra said learning would be the biggest motivator for the young team that will attend the camp. "We will learn from the athletes and see how we can improve on our tactics and methods," he said. 

2023 Pacific Games silver medallist Tanisha Chand. TEAM FIJI
2023 Pacific Games silver medallist Tanisha Chand. TEAM FIJI

In November, Fiji's Taekwondo athletes came close to winning their first gold medal at the Pacific Games, but Tanisha Chand (46 kg) and 16-year-old Lolohea Naitasi lost their final bouts to claim silver medals.

Naitasi is one of the four athletes who will be heading to the Solomon Islands. Speaking to FBC News, Naitasi said she will do her best to train hard and improve her skills. "I'm looking forward to all the training that's going to take place over the next two weeks. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said the young athlete. 

Another leading athlete, red and black belt taekwondo practitioner Maryanne Bulewa, has secured a one-year scholarship to study and train in South Korea, so she won't be competing in the Olympic qualifiers. The four-man team will leave for the Solomon Islands on Sunday.