July 30 - Paralympic high jump champion Iliesa Delana has won the Fijian Sportsman of the Year award for the second consecutive year after becoming the first athlete from the South Pacific Islands to win gold at the Games, whilst his coach Fred Fatiaki has also retained his Coach of the Year award.
Delana made history with his gold medal in the F42 high jump at London 2012, winning his nation's first ever medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Games, and only the third medal won by an athlete from the South Pacific Islands, following Francis Kompaon of Papua New Guinea's silver medal in the T46 100m sprint at Beijing 2008 and the silver won by Tongan boxer Paea Wolfgramm at Atlanta 1996.
The 28-year-old, who has since been hailed as an "icon" by the likes of Fijian President Epeli Nailatikau, accepted the award at the 2012 Fiji Sports Awards at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.
"For Paralympic sport, to win it [Sportsman of the Year] back-to-back is a huge achievement and I thank the Almighty for that," Delana said upon receiving the award.
"I think it's all about believing in yourself and setting your goals and working hard towards it to achieve great things.
"I want to forget this and achieve more like this in the future."
Delana also spoke of how he hopes his performance at London 2012 will inspire the next generation of Paralympic athletes to strive for success.
"This is a big boost for upcoming Paralympic athletes to achieve things same as me or even more than what I have achieved," he said.
"Nothing is impossible if you set your goals right.
"There are circumstances in life but you have to go through it in order to achieve your goals."
National Paralympic athletics coach Fatiaki, who has mentored Delana for the past six years, also retained his Coach of the Year award after striking gold in London last summer and dedicated the award to his athletes.
"It's a wonderful feeling, I can't describe but back-to-back for me is an honour and blessing," he said.
"I would like to thank everyone for this achievement, especially to the athletes for listening and believing in me."
"Nothing is impossible," he added.
"If I can do it so can the other athletes or officials with disabilities."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
December 2012: Fiji Paralympic gold medallist being rewarded for London 2012 success with new house