Former Fiji long-distance champion Binesh Prasad in Suva last week. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Distance running champion back home

Binesh Prasad was one of the top athletes in the country and the region from 1982 to 1996 where he competed in region’s top event then known as the South Pacific Games and then also went on to represent Fiji at the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 and in Barcelona in 1992.


Prasad was in the country to be part of the Olympic Day Run and to attend a reunion with his former colleagues.

“I started running during school days at the DAV Boys and I won the Fiji Finals and then I competed in the Suva-Sigatoka race where I came in second overall. I was selected by Atma Maharaj to train under his guidance and made the Commonwealth Youth Games in 1982,” he said.

“In the same year I had lunch with the Queen Elizabeth II and I dedicated myself to running since I had achieved so much in my life. I was also part of multiple South Pacific Games where I won a number of medals.

“In the 1990 Oceania Games I was in Fiji and did pretty good winning three gold medals. I married Nadia and she was from New Caledonia and was the South Pacific Games and Mini Pacific Games record holder. She was the queen of running in the Pacific and made the Olympic team for France in 1996. I had a wonderful career for Fiji and then we later became the sports massage therapist and worked with my Olympian who would come and stay in Boulder, Colorado.”

He used to run 5000 and 10,000 metres, half and full marathon for Fiji. He had a best record time of 2:23.03s in full marathon and he also achieved a time of 1:07.06 in the half marathon in 1993.

According to the FASANOC website, Prasad also represented Fiji at the two Commonwealth Games 1982 in Brisbane and 1986 Edinburgh; 4 South Pacific Games 1983-1995 (Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze); two South Pacific Mini Games 1985 and 1993 (2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze); Oceania Championships in 1994 (3 Gold); two World Road Championships, 2 World Cross Country Championships and one World Cup Marathon between 1987 to 1993.

“I used to take part in the 4×400, 800 metres, 1500m, 3000m flat, 3000m chase, 10,000, half marathon and I have gold medal in every event from 4x400m to marathon. In 1985 Mini South Pacific Games I settled for a silver medal in the 4x400m and then I went on to win a gold in the 1500m and silver in the steeplechase and 800 metres,” he said.

“I was able to help the athletes from the knowledge of my personal injuries and the education I got from the schools in the USA and helped athletes like Naoko Takahashi who won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympic Games from Japan and I also helped other athletes as well.”

“The athletics in the Pacific region has really dropped and Papua New Guinea is the only country which is keeping things together but the interest and the enthusiasm has gone and the number of people are participating is less.”

The website further reports “he was one of the three founders of the Striders Athletic Club that challenged the status quo and the stereotyped sporting systems in Fiji. The club, went on to organise its own events and fundraising — the Sun Striders Road Series, Round Viti Levu Relays, Round Ovalau Relay and the Hibiscus Mile, to name a few.”

“The sprint athletes will always be there but the middle and long-distance athletes have been a big decline.

“There are resources out there and I know the Fiji Finals are thriving in Fiji and the athletes think that is the end.

“We need to talk to these athletes and bring them on board with some kind of things to give back to them and encourage them to compete because that is where you can draw from running events, you can draw people into rugby, football and other sports.

“Once the foundation is strong the athletes then can only excel better in the other sports. It is not that we want to take things away from them. We want to have a bigger pool of people in athletes so they can specialise in the other sports as well.”

Prasad migrated to USA in 1986. Prasad at the age of 54 still looked younger and the passion for athletics was still in him.  He now resides in the Boulder, Colorado in USA. He is married to a champion runner from New Caledonia, Nadia Prasad who had ran for New Caledonia and she was also a Pacific track queen winning a number of competitions.

Since retiring from competitive running, Binesh helped coach his wife to the 1996 Olympics and a French National record for the Half Marathon at 1hr 9 minutes and 5 seconds. He also coaches the high school track team in Longmont, Colorado.

Binesh Prasad has been and will always be a great asset and ambassador for FIJI. FASANOC was proud to induct BINESH PRASAD into the Fiji Sports Hall of Fame for the year 2013.

Former Fiji long-distance champion Binesh Prasad in Suva last week. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA
Former Fiji long-distance champion Binesh Prasad in Suva last week. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Originally posted in The Fiji Times : Champ back home
Pravin Narain
Monday, July 03, 2017

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