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Fiji’s 75-year-old prime minister wins shot put medal

Sitiveni Rabuka, aged 75, wins a bronze medal at an international athletics championships in Fiji
Sitiveni Rabuka, aged 75, wins a bronze medal at an international athletics championships in Fiji - Facebook

Fiji’s prime minister wound back the clock on Wednesday by winning a bronze medal at an international athletics championships, aged 75.

Sitiveni Rabuka, who competed for his country in both rugby and athletics in his youth, finished on the podium for his age category in the shot put at the Oceania championships in Suva, the Fijian capital.

World leaders taking part in sports events is nothing new, but it is rare for one to walk away with a medal from an international competition.

Mr Rabuka earned his bronze with a throw of 23ft 3in (7.09m) to finish behind two Australian rivals in the 75-79 age category for the Oceania region.

A medal morale booster for the prime minister of Fiji
A medal morale booster for the prime minister of Fiji - Facebook

“Even at 75, I hope to inspire the younger generation to develop a habit of keeping fit and staying healthy,” he posted on his Facebook page.

“It was indeed a morale booster for me,” Mr Rabuka added.

The septuagenarian had just missed out on another medal on Monday, by finishing fourth for his age in the discus.

It is 50 years since the politician represented Fiji in the hammer throw, shot put, discus and decathlon at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He also scrummed down as a prop forward for the national rugby team.

The former lieutenant colonel led two coups in 1987, earning the nickname “Rambo” by seizing power after troops took over parliament on his signal.

He was pardoned for his part in the takeover and retired from the military to enter politics, taking his no-nonsense style of command from the parade ground to parliament.

He was elected prime minister in 1992 and held power until he was defeated in 1999.

Rabuka returned to office as head of the coalition government following elections in December 2022.

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