Matanimeke defies odds to stamp record-breaking gold medal run

Losing his mum when he was nine months old did not deter Rosivela Matanimeke from striving to become a better person in life.

He won gold in the Junior boys 800 meters and anchored a record-breaking run in the 1500 meters for Waidina Secondary School at the Triple N Zone, the 15-year-old Nadavacia, Nakorotubu, Ra native.

Raised by his grandparents after his mom passed away, his only wish during the zone meet that was held at the HFC Stadium two days ago was to have his mother by his side to celebrate the spoils with.

Speaking to Mai TV News, an emotional Matanimeke reflected on the struggles he endured to achieve the feat and qualify for a spot at the upcoming Coca-Cola Games.

“I never gave up, I woke up early in the morning to train and I do that every day, my teachers and my family members supported me knowing that I have the talent to win Gold. Sometimes I wanted to give up but my teachers encouraged me to continue to work hard,” Matanimeke said.

The start of the year was not an easy one for the young lad as well. In joining Waidina Secondary, Matanimeke had to part ways with his grandparents. As much as he wanted to further his studies for his grandparents, the cost was painful to bear.

Matanimeke said he cried almost every day, compounded by the thought of his 73-year-old grandfather tending to their farm, which is the family’s only source of sustenance, on his own.

“It was really painful leaving them behind, I used to go with my grandfather every day to the farm and help him plant Dalo and Yaqona. He told me not to worry but I should study hard and try and make them proud.”

And proud they were, his grandfather Joseva Waqa said as he cheered his grandson on in the last 200m of the race and as he walked up to the podium to collect his medals afterward.

Waking up at 3am that day to travel from Rakiraki to Suva to be on the sideline to support his grandson was everything that in the lead up to the zone meet he made sure the family saved enough for their transport to the city.

“I’m really happy, I really don’t know what to say. I believe his mum will be proud of him from heaven and for him to win Gold was just amazing. We came all the way from the village knowing that Rosivela will do us proud,” his grandfather said.

Waqa says Matanimeke is a gifted kid and despite his young age, he will go out of his way to help them on the farm and do other daily chores.

“He is a fine young man, sometimes I wanted to stop him from going with me to the farm because it’s too far but he always told me that he will never let me go alone to the farm because I’m too old. At his age, he can do anything on the farm and at home.”

That talent and grit Waqa says also extends to the athletics field and for the forthcoming Coca Cola Games optimistic that his grandson will step up again to defy all odds, an aspiration that Matanimeke says is possible as long as the heart is willing.\

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