There’s a saying that it’s not always good to meet your heroes, they could be a disappointment. As any soccer fan will tell you the Maracana stadium in Rio De Janeiro is simply iconic. To see the stadium for the first time, a stadium where sporting legends such as Pele and Neymar have graced the grass; it can fall below expectations. Even as the venue for the XXXI Olympiad it can’t be argued to be a place of beauty. Essentially, a concrete bowl amidst tight streets.

However, to stop at the gate is to miss the point. This, after all is the Maracana where once over 200,000 people would sway to the beat of the best soccer players in the world. Step inside, and that’s where the magic begins…..

It’s a dream for the senses.  Sounds, colour, rhythm and smiles all greet you when you step into the bowl. The Brazilians love to dance and sing. Kiss cams, dance routines and constant percussion combined before the ceremony started, to loosen up even the most ‘stiff legged’ of us.

It’s a shame that the Solomon Islands were three hours away from entering the stadium. It’s well known that Pacific islanders have a passion for their music and dance. Athletes Jenly Wini, Rosifelo Siosi and Sharon Firisua would have helped to get the party started.

The contingent from the Solomons was nine strong, including the aforementioned athletes. With 207 teams in this year’s Olympics they had quite a wait before it was their turn to take the spotlight. They were 161st on the list, one of fifteen Oceania Pacific nations here. The wait didn’t dampen their spirits as they kept those of us waiting in the stadium updated with their progress. Facebook is indeed a tool that can now give us behind the scenes access to the world’s greatest sporting event. With an estimated three billion watching on TV, it seemed only right that we could all feel involved.

The Solomons’ athletes along with Chef De Mission, Ronald Talasasa shared photos of the team as well as how the excitement was building for them.

They had just one final brief wait at the mouth to the tunnel. Russia, not short of their own TV coverage of late, preceded them. The gap opened up, a short burst of music and the announcement “Ilhas Salomao” with weightlifter Jenly Wini leading the way.

It must have been a thought provoking moment for the Chef De Mission, this being his last Olympics after twelve years of administrative service. It was perhaps fitting that his last Olympic Opening Ceremony would be taken by the theme of global warming and the Earth’s resources. A subject that Pacific islanders are fully aware of as part of their everyday life.

The Solomon Islands begin their Olympic campaign on day three of the Games with Jenly Wini in the 58kg category of the weightlifting.

By Glyn of The Reporters' Academy


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