Short but historic

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From L-R. Solomon Islands Athletes Commission Chairman Francis Manioru, Nestergeniwala and NOCSI President Martin Rara...Picture Peter Zoleveke II
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Geniwala to become a ‘living testimony’  

BY PETER ZOLEVEKE II

SOLOMON Islands first female Olympian Mrs Nester Geniwala’a will be a ‘living testimony’ to the new generation of female athletes in their strive to become Olympians one day.

National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands (NOCSI) President Mr Martin Rara made the comments while giving her assurance that through the International Olympic Committee (IOC) her achievement will be recognized.

It was 24 years ago, the then 16-year-old Nester, from Totongo village in Longu ward, East Guadalcanal, was selected to represent Solomon Islands at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.

She recalls how she was selected to make history for sports women in the country by becoming Solomon Islands first female Olympian.

“I was in form one at the Ruavatu Provincial Secondary School at that time, I was the school’s top athlete whenever we competed at organized inter – secondary sports carnival,” Nester recalled.

“For three years, from 1994 to 1996 I represented my school as a sprinter – and then in 1996 when I was in form three, we came over for a sport carnival hosted in Honiara at the Lawson Tama stadium, it was from that event that I was called up.

“Too shy back then but I listened to my uncle, Selwyn Kole who was also an athlete at that time. They took a photo of me and told me that I have been selected to compete at the Olympics,” she said.

“I remained with my uncle in Honiara while all my school mates returned. We were housed at the old Town Ground field where we do our training sessions preparing,” she told SunSPORTS.

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In fact she was the only female among three men Olympians; Selwyn Kole (Men’s 1500 m) Primo Higa (Men’s 3000 m steeplechase) Joseph Anika (Men’s 1000 m) and Weightlifter, Tony Analau (Men – 64kg) that were selected for the Atlanta Olympics.

“I remember standing on the running track looking at other competitors. I was the youngest. When I completed the race all the other athletes went straight to me, they carried me jogging around the arena waving to the thousands watching, I made friends back then,” Nester vividly recalled.

When asked if she see can identify the difference of sport development in the 90s compared to today, she said there’s a lot that has changed.

“Before, sports competitions were organized regularly engaging schools, which we all did our best to prepare for a spot to represent our schools. Unlike nowadays I don’t see or hear about such competitions no longer,” she stressed.

“Sports can take you anywhere, even if you don’t perform well academically or have a wealthy job your individual sporting talent can take you anywhere and I have proved it.

Sadly, Nester’s running days came to an end in 1997 at the height of the ethnic tension that tore the country apart. It forced her and many other talented athletes to leave school and return home.

Nowadays, Nester lives with her husband and their four children, and is enjoying typical village life.

 “Now that you no longer an athlete, its time you can give back to sports what you experienced especially to the communities you come from through schools, churches and youth groups.

“IOC and NOCSI will always open its doors to help with initiatives you decide to come up with specifically in the sport you once played,” NOCSI President Martin Rara reassured her.

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