Solomon Islands fly flag high on their Independence Day
Each of the 27 flag bearers for the opening ceremony of the 2019 Pacific Games at Apia Park on Sunday evening felt honoured to be chosen for that role.
But for Solomon Islands long-distance runner, Sharon Firisua, the occasion was even more special.
The opening ceremony took place on July 7th 2019, 41 years to the day after her nation won Independence from the United Kingdom.
“I’m carrying the flag for the Independence day as well," Firisua said.
The 25-year-old said it felt amazing to be given the role.
“It’s a privilege that you carry the flag for the country, I’m so happy.
“It’s a big responsibility, looking after everyone here.
“You have to represent the whole team here, and even the country as a whole."
Firisua was chosen to lead the nation out of close to 300 Team Solomon Islands athletes and officials that have come to Samoa for the Games.
She said her whole family were watching on from home as well.
“They were all excited to see the opening ceremony."
Firisua is the defending Pacific Games champion in the 5000m, 10,000m and half marathon, having won gold in all three events at Port Moresby in 2015.
“Hoping to get the title again in my three events," she said.
The athletics events are not until the second week of the Games starting July 15th, which Firisua said is a plus because she has time to acclimatise to the different environment of Samoa.
“I’m so happy I’ve come in the first week, to get used to the weather here."
She said she is enjoying life in the Games Village at the Faleula Methodist Compound.
“Because we’re all there and you get to know each other, even the other countries.
“You get to know each other when we go for dinner, breakfast and lunch."
The Solomon Islands will host the next Pacific Games in 2023.