From bare foot to Rio 16

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Group photo of some of the local athletes and leaders who were inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday. Picture Peter Zoleveke II
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Olympians recognised

BY PETER ZOLEVEKE II

IT was in 1983 the governing International Olympic Committee (IOC) formally recognized Solomon Islands into the Olympic movement following its establishment – prior to that, local athletes competed bare footed and travelled on ships to regional competitions.

Thirty three years later, after the Rio 2016 Olympics, 20 local Olympians were finally recognized by NOCSI for their sporting feat as the country’s ambassadors. Also recognized were leaders during these nine Olympiads who were all inducted into NOCSI’s sporting Hall of Fame yesterday.

IOC initially supported then Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee (SINOC). In 1984 four athletes for the first time ever represented the country at the Los Angeles Olympics.

Four years earlier, SINOC founding father, Christian Suaga recalled the challenges in leading the country’s then contingent to the first South Pacific Mini Games and then to the International multi – sporting event when the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland opened its doors for the nation to be inaugurated.

“I remember in 1979 the first time leading a team we travelled by ship to Fiji and competed barefooted in soccer at the first Pacific Mini Games we attended. Upon our return that’s when we begin to connect, sending request to IOC. In 1983 the formation of SINOC came to fruition after our request was granted,” the softly spoken Mr. Suaga recalled.

Long – Distance runner Primo Higa received his award from NOCSI President Martin Rara

Thirty three years later after the Los Angeles, the National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands (NOCSI) through it Solomon Islands Athletes Commission (SIAC) recognized and inducted these Olympians into the sporting Hall of Fame in a brief unveiling ceremony.

“IOC has to take some time to consider the request of Solomon Islands and eventually it did approve under the captaincy of Mr. Suaga,” says NOCSI President Martin Rara.

“The country continues to enjoy the privilege offered by the mother body to this day. Today we recognize you athletes and leaders that had represented our country in these various Olympic Games hosted in different locations of the world.

“Each of you has a history and story to tell about your short stint at the world fiercest battle of sports rivalry ever experience in the past during your time. Your legacy will inspire our aspiring young talents to strive and raise the country’s flag at an Olympic podium,” Mr. Rara expresses.

“As the current President I continue to acknowledge you for the performances and sacrifices you all have done in ensuring the five stars continue to fly in various stadiums of the Olympic Games around the world.

Mr. Rara also saluted former Presidents and Secretaries of NOCSI and past executives who had served within SINOC and now NOCSI.

“I thank you all for your great effort in keeping the country afloat until now despite many tough challenges to lead,” he said.

Sports and National federations that had represented the Solomon Islands at the Olympic Games from 1984 to 2016 are; Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Judo and Weightlifting.

The Hall of Fame recognizes,

Presidents;

1 Christian SUAGA

2 Brown SAUA

3 David CAMPBELL

4 Charles DAUSABEA

5 Fred MAETOLOA

6 Martin Ba’ai RARA

Secretary Generals

1. John BAKEUA

2. Joseph PITU

3. Fox QWAINA

4. Martin ALUFURAI

5. Cecil ONO

6. Melinda AVOSA

Olympians;

1. Charlie OLIVER

2. Johnson KERE

3. Leslie ATA

4. Tommy BAURO

5. Benjamin FAFALE

6. John MAEKE

7. Derrick TENAI

8. Nester GENIWALA

9. Selwyn KOLE

10. Tonny ANALAU

11. Primo HIGA

12. Jeny KENI

13. Francis MANIORU

14. Wendy Hale BOSA

15. Pauline KWALEA

16. Chris Meke WALASI

17. Tony LOMO

18. Jenly Tegu WINI

19. Sharon Kikini FIRISUA

20. Rosifelo SIOSI

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