“Golden Gabriel does it again”, that was the headline for the Fiji Times article (26/06/1993) that covered the 3 day Mobil International Athletics Championship in Suva in 1993. At this point in his career, Qoro had represented Fiji at numerous regional competitions, the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain and had dominated the long jump event in Fiji for some time.
Gaby as he is more commonly known by, hails from Sasa Village in Ba, a place renowned for producing high profiled jumpers, not particularly Sasa Village but Ba as a geographical whole with names like Mereani White, Shawntell Lockington, Rosalia Raqato, Poasa Satoqi, Malakai Kaiwalu, Frank Louey and many more who’ve won coke games gold medals over the years. However, as he’d like to put it, “was born and bred in Nadroga, which is probably why most people think I’m from Nadroga” said Gaby.
Attending St. John’s College, Cawaci from forms 3 to 5; Gaby dominated the horizontal jumps at the Coke Games and continued his reign when he switched allegiances to Sigatoka Andrha College to finish off his 6th form education and furthering on for vocational.
His first ever regional competition in the Fiji colors was at the 1989 Mini South Pacific Games in Tonga where he finished 4th in the long jump final (7.09m) and 6th in the triple jump final (13.78m). Two years later at the 1991 Pacific Games in PNG, Qoro leapt to a personal best of 7.49m to win gold in the long jump final but only bounded out to a mere 13.97m and another 6th place finish in the finals of the triple jump.
In 1992, in his build up for the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Qoro was selected in an elite squad that consisted of Anare Ragiagia, Autiko Daunakamakama, Calvin Yee, Braeman Yee, Jioji Nadavo, Alex Soqosoqo, Jone Delai, Vaciseva Tavaga and Apisai Driu to compete and train in Australia and England where he continued to make headlines winning gold at the Australian State Championships in a jump of 7.47m and a bronze at the Mobile Grand Prix athletics meet in Adelaide replicating his state championships jump of 7.47m behind David Culbut who, at the time, was Australia’s Olympic Games long jump rep. Qoro went on to the Barcelona Olympics (1992) to finish ranked 41st in the long jump with a jump of 7.22m in the first round and a 7th place finish in heat 5 of the men’s 100m round 1 qualifier in a time of 11.14s.
One would need to write a biography on his life to highlight every single experience and achievement of his so at best I’ve managed to summarize his sporting background; Athletics (Athlete 1987-2001, Coach 1996-2007, accredited level 4 jumps coach, accredited level 2 IAAF lecturer) and Netball (Player 1991-2009, Netball Umpire 1993-2010, accredited level A Umpires Award 1997, Netball Coach 1997 Otahuhu NZ, 2007 UNIS Netball NZ, International Coaching Enrichment Diploma Program USA 2009/2010).
Yup, you read right…Netball. Despite being the face of Athletics, Qoro’s netball career had always shadowed his athletic career. “What many people don’t know is that Atma Maharaj used to come on over to the netball courts to come get me to compete at the local competitions and then would take me back to the courts. All the jumping around in Netball helped me plyometrically in athletics”, Qoro said reminiscently. FASANOC Hall of famers Albert Miller Snr and Jone Delai both agreed to Qoro having the perfect mix of physical attributes and tenacity that made him one of the most prolific athletes of his time.
In addition to having extensive experience in sports administration and physical education, Qoro was also the first ever male selected to coach a women’s netball national team in the Pacific and Oceania region.
Story by Eugene Vollmer