Athletics Fiji Sprinter Banuve Tabakaucoro’s only worry as he
prepares for Olympic qualification is regular top-level competition.

The
Bau Bullet who is also the current reigning Pacific Games 100m and 200m
champion is chasing Olympic Games qualification  and is hopeful that
Fiji and other countries will open their borders soon so that he will be
able to compete at a higher level.

“One of my major worries as
well is setting a time frame which will ensure that I am at my
competitive best when competition starts,” he said.

“Right now, it
is just a guessing game with training because the plan that I had with
coach Bola Tafo’ou was to ensure that I reached my peak come Olympic
Games this year.”

Banuve said should the borders remain closed, he
would have to make do with local competition and hopefully come up with
a plan that would ensure he was in the right fitness level and mental
state before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, next year.

“So
right now, speed endurance and competition fitness are what I need the
most and with facilities still closed, I will make do with what I have,”
he said.

Coach Bola said if they followed the plan, he had set out for Banuve, they should be in good shape early next year.

“Right
now, Banuve is hitting 10.3 seconds and our aim is to bring it down to
10.1 seconds before entering the Olympic Games next year,” he said.

“But our biggest challenge is regular competition, because this is the only way Banuve will be able to gauge himself.”

Bola
said they were hopeful that the Melanesian Athletics Championship will
continue in December which will give Banuve a chance to see which areas
he would need to improve on.

“But once Australia and New Zealand
extend their bubble to include the Pacific Islands, we hope to take part
in every athletics competition that comes up,” he said.

Earlier
this year Banuve had attended competitions in Australia. Banuve also
welcomed World Athletics’ new Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification system,
which prevents competitors from securing a qualifying time before
December 2020.

The new rule follows Tokyo 2020 being moved to 2021
because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and means results achieved before
December will not count towards either Olympic places or the world
rankings.

Many athletes have already qualified for the Olympics,
given the qualification period began on either January 1 or May 1 of
2019 depending on the event.

To be eligible for selection,
athletes must have achieved the qualification standard, or if no athlete
is successful in qualifying, the athlete with the highest World
Athletics ranking will be selected to fill the Universality Place
available.

Should the pandemic allow, the qualification period
will resume at the start of December and end up being four months longer
in total than had been planned before the postponement of Tokyo 2020
until next summer.

Banuve hopes to attend meets anywhere as long
as they are recognised qualification events by World Athletics and the
International Olympic Committee until the closing date for entries which
is approximately a fortnight before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic
Games.

Banuve along with teammates Eugene Vollmer and Mustafa
Fall have not let COVID-19 dampen their spirits as they chase their
Olympic Dreams.Although the athletes have not been able to access the
ANZ Stadium and the National Fitness Centre, their regular training
venues, they stepped up to this challenge by building their own backyard
gym, funded in part with an Equipment Grant from the Oceania National
Olympic Committees.   Track work has been replaced by road work, and
access to the Marist Brothers High School grounds has been helpful.

Eugene
is one of six Fiji athletes who, as IOC Scholarship recipients, receive
a training grant specifically to assist towards qualifying for the
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  

Other recipients include Robert Elder (Archery), Tevita Takayawa (Judo), Matelita Buadromo and Epeli Rabua (Swimming).  

Sally Yee (Table Tennis) a scholarship recipient through a joint IOC and Japan Table Tennis Association is another athlete vying for Tokyo 2020 qualification.  Sally  is currently back in Fiji after the High School she was attending closed down due to the outbreak of COVID-19  but is hopeful to return to Japan to continue her training and studies.

FASANOC

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