Vanuatu's newest sporting hero - Friana Kwevira

Friana Kwevira is being labelled Vanuatu's newest sporting hero after winning the country's first Commonwealth Games medal.

The 19-year-old from Nduindui Village on West Ambae claimed bronze in the women's para javelin on Monday with a best throw of 24.54 metres in front of more than 20,000 people at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast.

"Me not frightened, they cheer me, it made me feel happy and me proud from a person from Vanuatu," Kwevira said.

"...with my medal I feel overexcited. (I did) not expect to win a medal."

Friana Kwevira with her gold medal

Friana Kwevira with her gold medal Photo: RNZ Pacific / Vinnie Wylie

Kwevira was only introduced to para sports 12 months ago, when she took part in a talent identification program in Luganville.

She began seriously training in javelin four months ago and Team Vanuatu Chef de Mission Mike Masaufakalo said now she's made history.

"We came in here with the hope that we would go back with something - even if it's not a medal but the personal best for these athletes would have been good enough for us but then we got a medal and from one of our para athletes," Masaufakalo said.

"This means a lot to us in Vanuatu, for sports in general in Vanuatu and more specifically on para athletes. The excitement at home is overwhelming."

Masaufakalo said Kwevira will recieve national heroes welcome when she gets back home and she is already a favourite among athletes in the village.

"I know that when we go back home to Vanuatu she will be received with a lot of open arms.

"She will be very well known in Vanuatu for a very very long time and she will go down into the history books of Vanuatu sports as the first ever medallist in the Commonwealth Games."

President of the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee, Margaret Macfarlane, said Friana's story showed what could be achieved for people living with an impairment in Vanuatu.

"And to think we identified Frianas talent in our first talent identification session - there must be so many more fine para-athletes out in the provinces," she said.

"We intend to conduct other programs this year with the first in Tanna in late May and another in Malekula in September. If you have big dreams come along and make your dreams a reality.

Coach Jessica Richardson, Friana Kwevira and Chef de Mission Mike Masaufakolo

Coach Jessica Richardson, Friana Kwevira and Chef de Mission Mike Masaufakolo Photo: RNZ Pacific / Vinnie Wylie




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