The Fiji Judo Association is in the process of recruiting a full-time coach to ensure its athletes have all the resources they need in their fight for Paris 2024 Olympic qualification.
Association secretary and Olympian Josateki Naulu said the challenge for a national federation is that they are currently traveling without a coach.
“At Olympic qualification level, it is essential that we have a coach who travels when we go to training camps and international tournaments,” he said.
Josateki said like other national devotees vying for Olympic qualification, their main challenge was funding.
“Despite the lack of funding, we still have to pursue our goal of Olympic qualification,” he said.
“We need to use what we have and work within our budget to ensure we get the maximum result, which for us is getting on the podium in local, regional and international competitions.”
Josateki said they currently have two athletes who are competing at a high level and the NF has certain expectations of those athletes.
“Tevita Takayawa and Shanice Takayawa are both Olympic Solidarity scholarship recipients and are expected to step onto the podium.
“Tevita placed third and earned valuable Olympic qualifying points at the recent Oceania Championships held in Perth, Australia, while Shanice is well on her way to becoming a competitive athlete.”
Josateki said the competition was tough, but both athletes should expect equally tough challenges in any competition.
HE said there was still plenty of room for improvement and both athletes needed to focus on their goal of qualifying for the Olympics.
“The next tournament is the Tokyo Grand Slam on Saturday November 26-27 in Japan, followed by an international training camp which is a big step up from the Oceania Open in Perth. We have two more weeks to prepare ourselves and we will rise to the challenge.
The association began preparations for the 2023 Pacific Games after hosting a national event in September.
“The association has put in place a selection criteria through our national event ranking system which we started with the Suva Open Judo in September, the next being the national championship on December 3.
“This will be another event for our judokas to earn selection points for the Pacific Games.”
The pair hope to improve their performance from the 2019 Pacific Games where Fiji judo won four gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.