The Marshallese March to the Tune of the Games

By Lewis Woods

Imagine carrying your country’s flag into the world’s biggest sporting event, being watched by an estimated four billion people. Haley Nemra of The Marshall Islands was lucky enough to share the honour of flag bearer with the likes of, tennis star Novak Djokovic, fastest man alive Usain Bolt and 4 times gold medallist Chris Hoy.

Speaking to Haley after the event she told me, “Some of my friends told me there was going to be four billion people watching me, and it was just incredible, I tried not to think about all the people watching me, but I just had to smile and keep going.”

The ceremony named, The Isle of Wonder, opened with the centre of the stadium dressed as a part of the British countryside, complete with a cottage,
a cricket game and a selection of farm animals. This peaceful scene was quickly disturbed by drummers and industrial workmen, who stripped away the countryside to show the industrial revolution in Britain, chimneys spouted out of the ground, a glowing cast iron ring was created and raised into the sky, where it was joined by four more to help create the Olympic rings, an electrifying way to start the ceremony.

The ceremony showed the best of Britain and the best athletes from The Marshall Islands seemed to all agree that it was a real spectacle. After speaking to 50m freestyle swimmer Giordan Harris, he told me, “I’m from a very small, small island in the Marshall Islands, its only one mile long and being raised there all my life, I’ve not seen anything like the opening ceremonies before, it’s just absolutely amazing.”

After a fantastic dancing, acrobatic and pyrotechnic display, it was time for the Olympians of 2012 to enter the stadium, Haley Nemra lead from the front, standing tall and proud whilst holding the blue, white and orange national flag. Talking about how she felt entering the stadium Haley told me, “Gazing out at the crowd I couldn’t really tell how many people were there because of the lights, but then I realised it was all of them, so it was crazy but it was just incredible.”

At the close of the ceremony it was time to light the flame that symbolises the Olympics spirit, and fittingly it was lit by young athletes, hoping to inspire a new generation. This is The Marshall Islands second Olympics in their history, and they hope that each of their athletes performances in the Games, and the symbolic entrance into the stadium for the ceremony, will inspire the next generation of Marshallese Olympians.


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