Olympic Day commemorates the day that the International Olympic Committee was founded in 1894. The annual event is a celebration of sport, health, and ‘being the best you can be’, inviting everyone around the globe to be active and celebrate the Olympic values of Excellence, Respect and Friendship.
Kiribati Badminton Federation have been instrumental in instilling these values over the last few years as Shuttle Time continues to bring communities together. Meanwhile, two of the nation’s players emerged onto Oceania’s competitive scene.
Women’s doubles duo, Teitiria Utimawa and Tinabora Takeiaki, were beacons of badminton for the tiny nation at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games. With barely any international experience under their belt, the pairs unbeaten run in the Mixed Team event was narrowly broken by Fiji’s Karyn and Andra Whiteside (over three close games). However, it was still an incredible feat given that their opponent’s experience spanned across two Commonwealth Games (2006 and 2018) and the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017.
Showing little signs of intimidation and demonstrating all the layers of Olympism, the pair have since competed in the Perth International and South Australia International in 2019 – with Utimawa celebrating a victory in both the women’s singles and doubles at their first BWF Future Series event.
Moreover, the pair went on to make the quarterfinals at this year’s VICTOR Oceania Championships 2020 and then one month later, returned to the same courts to win the women’s doubles title at the Ballarat A Grade tournament.
Utimawa had been a potential contender for a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, through the Tripartite Commission, which allows for participation by athletes from National Olympic Committees who would, through normal qualification processes, have little or no representation at the Games. However, the process is put on hold and to be reviewed following the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
News of their success has continued to make its way back to the distant islands of Kiribati where Shuttle Time is beginning to thrive with over 10 trained Shuttle Time teachers and 600 participants.
Leading the charge of Shuttle Time success, Kiribati’s Shuttle Time Coordinator, Tongoboo Beero, continues to deliver sessions for aspiring children, while encouraging more adults to undertake the training and deliver in more communities. However, Tongoboo’s journey has only just begun as he demonstrates the Olympic values with ambitions to become the country’s first BWF level 1 coach.
“It’s been great to see how much badminton has developed in our country over the last couple of years.”
“We continue to see more Shuttle Time teachers coming through to aid with school sessions and in the community groups. It would be great to go one step further and aid the development of those players who want to train and play more competitively,” said Beero.
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