PEOPLE | The paddling doctor: Fatiaki reps Fiji at Pacific Games

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Dr Byron Fatiaki perfects his paddle strokes. Picture: BYRON FATIAKI

SPORTS can play a crucial role in promoting the health and well-being of individuals engaged in it.
These sentiments were expressed by Dr Byron Fatiaki, an assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Fiji National University’s (FNU), College of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences’ (CMNHS).
He also works as a gynecologist at the Aspen Lautoka Hospital.
Dr Fatiaki is set to represent Fiji in canoeing, known as Va’a, at the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands, scheduled from November 19 to December 2, 2023.
“I feel immensely honoured to be selected to represent our country.
“It is always a privilege to represent Fiji and its people at national sporting
events,” Dr Fatiaki said.
The 36-year-old from Rotuma shares maternal connections to Kulukulu, Nadroga and Levuka, his participation will contribute to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3: Health and Wellbeing.
Reflecting on his journey, Dr Fatiaki said his interest in canoeing developed during the COVID-19 crisis.
“In March 2020, as the world came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals faced the uncertainties of lockdown.
“However, I stumbled upon an unexpected opportunity for personal growth in the Cook Islands. Locked down for nine months, from March to December 2020, this period turned out to be a transformative experience. It was during this time that I discovered the sport of outrigger canoeing.
“Sports are integral to having a stress free life. They not only prepare you physically but also strengthen you mentally, nurturing qualities essential for leadership. I fondly refer to outrigger canoeing as ‘water therapy,’ as it has significantly improved my self-understanding.
“Water possesses the remarkable ability to surmount obstacles in its path, and during challenging times, I strive to emulate its adaptability. Regardless of the hurdles ahead, it gracefully navigates its way around them.”
Dr William May, Dean of CMNHS, congratulated Dr Fatiaki on his achievement, highlighting its significance for the Fiji National University and the College of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences (CMNHS).
Dr May affirmed the institution’s commitment to supporting its staff members in extracurricular activities, including national representation.
“Engagement in sports not only fosters physical fitness and well-being but also makes a substantial contribution to the achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, which seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for individuals of all ages,” he said.
“This goal encompasses a diverse set of objectives aimed at enhancing global health and overall wellbeing, underscoring the multifaceted and effective nature of sports as a tool for advancing these goals among our staff.”