Banuve Worries About Competition

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.