Fiji cleared for Commonwealth Games

Fiji's five-year suspension from the commonwealth has been lifted, clearing the way for the country to compete at this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

  

In 2009, the South Pacific nation's Commonwealth membership was suspended after it refused to hold democratic elections following a coup. Australia and New Zealand also imposed sanctions.

  

It meant representatives from the country were banned from Commonwealth councils and Fiji missed the 2010 Games in Delhi.

  

A meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group in London on Friday decided the ban should be partially lifted and remain only for councils of the Commonwealth, in recognition of national elections planned for later this year.

  

The details of the team Fiji will send to Glasgow will now be decided but the country has a strong tradition in the rugby sevens competition, winning medals at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Games.

  

Chairman of Glasgow 2014 Lord Smith of Kelvin said: "The Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee (OC) looks forward to welcoming Fiji's athletes and officials to the city and Scotland as participants in the next Commonwealth Games.

  

"Discussions on Fiji's participation in this summer's Games will now begin between the OC and the Commonwealth Games Association of Fiji to establish the scale and scope of the team they propose to send to Glasgow."

  

Prince Tunku Imran, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), said "The Games will be an incredible festival of sport and the celebrations will be all the more complete with our Fijian friends and colleagues taking part."

"I am delighted to welcome Fiji back into the Commonwealth Games family, and very pleased that they will be able to participate in Glasgow."

  

The Commonwealth Games will be held from July 23 to August 3.

The IRB has confirmed it has suspended all financial support to the Fiji Rugby Union. Source: Photosport


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Athletes who vanished during Commonwealth Games turn up in Sydney

A group of athletes who disappeared while they were supposed to be competing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last month have finally resurfaced with their visas due to expire later tonight.

Daily Telegraph reports that the group of African athletes who went missing are now consulting with the Refugee Advice and Casework Service in Randwick, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Approximately 19 athletes disappeared during the Games, including five boxers and three wrestlers from Cameroon - one of whom was meant to face Kiwi fighter David Nyika in the heavyweight section quarter-finals.

The Australian Government emphasised during last month's event that the athletes had not breached their visas by leaving the athletes' village but they were warnings they would be tracked down as well as an urge to depart before the visas expired today.

"If they don't want to be held in detention or locked up at the local watch house, they'd better jump on a plane before the 15th and comply with their visa's conditions," Australia's Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton said.

It isn't the first case of athletes disappearing during the Commonwealth Games. 

In 2012, seven athletes from Cameroon were reported missing while back in 2006 in Melbourne, 14 athletes from Sierra Leone were eventually granted asylum after more than 40 competitors went missing.

Cameroon weightlifter Olivier Matam went missing during the Commonwealth Games.
Cameroon weightlifter Olivier Matam went missing during the Commonwealth Games. Source: Getty


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Police appeal for public's help to recover David Nyika's stolen Comm Games gold medal

Police want to speak to people seen on CCTV at an Auckland store over the Commonwealth Games gold medal that was stolen from boxer David Nyika.

Police want to talk to this person or anyone who recognises this person in relation to the theft of a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Source: NZ Police

Nyika, who defended his Glasgow heavyweight gold with a win over Australia's Jason Whately, was in Auckland last month when he noticed his medal, as well as some vouchers, had been stolen from his car.

He reported the theft to police on April 29.

Police want to talk to this person or anyone who recognises this person in relation to the theft of a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Source: NZ Police

Detective Sergeant Paul Slater of Hamilton Tactical Crime Unit says police are interested in speaking to the people seen in these CCTV video still in this story taken at a store in Onehunga.

"Obviously a Commonwealth Games medal is very distinctive and of high sentimental value to the victim and his family, our priority is to return this medal to its rightful owner," he said.

Police want to talk to this person or anyone who recognises this person in relation to the theft of a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Police want to talk to this person or anyone who recognises this person in relation to the theft of a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Source: NZ Police

"We want to speak to anyone who has information or was in the area at the time, we believe someone will know where it is or who these people are in these photos so we can speak to them."

"We also want to speak to the people pictured as we believe they can help us with our inquiries.

Nykia won the medal on the Gold Coast, and says it holds plenty of sentimental value for him. Source: 1 NEWS

Nyika said he was confident the police would find the culprits and his medal.

"At first I was quite embarrassed about it, but now I'm just angry.

"I just want the medal back. It's almost worthless to anyone but me, you know, so I really hope I can get it back."

If anyone has information they can contact Detective Sergeant Paul Slater on (07) 858 6200.

Nyika defeated Jason Whateley by unanimous decision at the Comm Games in the 91kg division. Source: TVNZ | Commonwealth Games

The 22-year-old dominated his Aussie rival Jason Whateley in the final to win by unanimous decision in the men’s 91kg division. Source: TVNZ | Commonwealth Games

Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police want to talk to this person (in the inset) or anyone who recognises this person (inset) in relation to the theft of a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Source: Photosport

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Commonwealth champion Julia Ratcliffe learned hammer throw in the backyard

Many of New Zealand’s greatest rugby players and cricketers developed their skills in the backyard, but Commonwealth champion Julia Ratcliffe is probably the first to learn the hammer throw at home.

The Ratcliffes’ home facility is the perfect training ground for track and field's latest star with a total of 27 hammers, the lightest being 2kg and the heaviest being 8kg.

"Dad was out in the back yard with the 100 metre tape measuring out the logistics of where the hammer circle would go," Ratcliffe said.

It was high stakes for Ratcliffe’s dad and coach, Dave.

"If we would have hit the house my wife would have said 'off you go'," he said.

Surprisingly, it didn't start with the hammer for the 24-year-old, she showed promise in the hurdles, winning the North Island champs but found out the hard way running wasn't her thing.

"She would run 100 metres, she would get left for dead, everybody would always beat her, she was quite explosive but she wasn't really built to run anything over 20 metres," her dad said.

From plodder to an explosive thrower, Ratcliffe's victory on the Gold Coast her best result to date.

The Princeton economics graduate is taking some time away from the hammer after shouldering an injury for almost a year.

"So the joints that attach your collar bone to your sternum, so they were subluxing, so partially dislocating," Ratcliffe said.

She'll focus on rehab before eyeing up her next big event, the world champs in October next year.

Then it'll be Tokyo and the chance to compete at her first Olympics.

Trained by her dad in the backyard, Ratcliffe is the country's latest athletics star, even if running wasn't her thing. Source: 1 NEWS


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'It's been a bit of a whirlwind!' - Black Sticks women's star still coming to terms with historic gold medal

Black Sticks defender Sam Charlton says her side's Commonwealth Games success will be a pivotal moment for the side, having claimed their first ever gold medal on the Gold Coast.

New Zealand's 4-1 victory over arch-rivals Australia sealed the historic gold medal for New Zealand, with Charlton telling TVNZ1's Breakfast that the Black Sticks are still living with the euphoria of their triumph.

"It's been a bit of a whirlwind!" she said.

"It was huge for us, obviously it's something that we've never achieved before.

"It's something we set out to do and we knew that it was going to be a really hard task. But to actually achieve that and come back and do that on behalf of our team and everyone back here, it was really special for us."

Charlton also added that the gold medal can be a stepping stone for future success, with a packed schedule on the cards for the Black Sticks.

"We have our World Cup in July, which is a huge pinnacle event for us."

"At the Commonwealth Games we achieved some really important milestones - we won our first shootout, which is a really big thing for us, and to win a final as well.

"Just proving to ourselves that we can do it against some of the best teams in the world is something that'll give us a huge amount of confidence going forward."

Defender Sam Charlton opened up on her side's victorious Commonwealth Games campaign. Source: TVNZ | Commonwealth Games


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