BY CLAIRISSA MYATT
In 2006, the Pacific Nation of Fiji was plunged into its fourth military coup in twenty years. The military removed the Prime Minister of the time, Laisenia Qarese and took control of the government.
Due to this military coup, the country was unable to compete in the Commonwealth games for the past eight years.
“Everyone was really shocked about what had happened. It affected my dad’s business a little bit that year because everyone was migrating and there were no jobs available for my dad to compete being a civil engineer,” said Tieri Erasito, a sophomore on the women’s swim team and a native Fijian.
That situation became commonplace when the country later found out that it had been suspended from the Commonwealth Games. However, recently Fiji was invited back to the Commonwealth.
“Everyone was quite happy about it and proud to be back in the Commonwealth,” said Erasito.
For those unaware of what the Commonwealth Games are, it is similar to the Olympics. However, only countries that are members of the Commonwealth are invited to participate. 71 nations in total were represented, including Fiji, which was recently welcomed back.
The games took place in Glasgow, Scotland this year. Among the 4,500 athletes was Lynn’s very own Erasito. The Fighting Knight took to the swimming lanes as the first to represent Fiji in eight long years. Erasito swam multiple butterfly events and sprint freestyle.
It was mid-July when the athletes arrived at the games.
“The best memory I have from the trip is when we first arrived and walked in the opening ceremony; it was so great to represent my country and walk with the Fiji flag, definitely a proud moment for me and my family.”
Being the first to represent her country after a suspension was an emotional roller coaster. Erasito explained that each morning she would wake up and sit on the edge of her bed and think, “Wow, I can not believe I’m here.”
With all the emotions and competing, a little fun was in need. Between spoting the royal family across the pool, to her cousin playing FIFA with Prince Harry, it was an amazing experience for Erasito.
The Royal Family were not the only special appearance that Erasito witnessed. Erasito saw Usain Bolt as he crossed the finish line after a race. “I cannot explain how I felt, I just stood there in amazement at who I was looking at,” Erasito said.
Erasito did not win any medals but ranked first in some of the heats she competed in. Though, Fiji did win a bronze medal for its first time back in the games.
While it may have been Erasito’s first time to compete at the Commonwealth Games, she hopes it will certainly not be her last.