The Fiji Times » High-level competition motivates Matanatabu

Having the chance to play at a high level competition is what motivates Fiji squash athlete Marika Matanatabu, who will be competing at her first Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

The squash competition begins tomorrow where Marika is drawn in the first round to face Jake Kelly of the Cayman Islands.

The 26-year-old Naioti, Yale native, Kadavu, who was based in Australia before the Games, is currently the No. 1 ranked male squash athlete in Fiji, having won every competition he has played in Fiji since returning to the sport in December 2019 after a four-year hiatus.

“Like all athletes, I am grateful for this opportunity because it allows me to compete with well-known international athletes in the sport,” he said.

“I hope to thank my national federation and the Fiji Sports Association and the National Olympic Committee for the confidence they have placed in me to represent my country.”

Marika said that while he sees this as an opportunity to compete at a high level, he will strive to do his best in every game he plays.

“Participating in the Commonwealth Games is not only a great opportunity, but also a responsibility. Mine is to inspire other squash athletes and show that we can compete at such a high level.

Growing up in Lautoka, Marika started playing the sport since he was a junior at the Northern Club under Rita and Ratu Wiliki Takiveikata.

Marika, who was based at Daisy Hill Club in Brisbane, trained under Bradley Hindle, and is ranked 13th at Daisy Hill and 24th in Queensland.

Team manager Michael Irava ​​initially said Squash Fiji had indicated they would not be sending a team to the Games given the timeframe, but were encouraged by the World Squash Federation via Oceania Squash to consider a contribution.

“After preparing a dossier for the best male and female national players to be considered by FASANOC, Marika has met the selection criteria for the Fiji team, hence her selection for the Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately, we couldn’t field our number one female player,” he said.

“We are grateful to FASANOC for considering the case of squash and also for facilitating the support of the PacificAus Sports Partnership in Australia, which helped Marika’s preparation in Queensland ahead of the Games.”

In 2018, the Fiji Squash team also competed at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. FASANOC acknowledges the support of all our partners towards Team Fiji’s preparation and participation in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

These include Fiji National Sports Commission, Oceania National Olympic Committees, PacificAus Sports Partnership, Commonwealth Sport, Griffith and Birmingham Universities, Nike and FASANOC sponsors in Fiji.

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