In the Children’s Day Parade 24th July 2019, Marceline Moli will proudly show off her Bronze Medal for 100 metres race at the Pacific Games in Samoa.

“We asked all the Pacific Games medalists to participate in the Children’s Day Parade to inspire our young people to dream, to set ambitious targets for their lives regardless of who they are where they live and the problems they are facing. Marceline Moli at the age of 16 provides a shining example for all young people in Vanuatu of perseverance and hope and achievement of big dreams,” commented Henry Vira, Director General of the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports.

Marceline was only 10 years old when she climbed a very high mango tree in Abobo Village in Ambae. Reaching out along a branch to grab a mango, Marceline over balanced and fell. A very bad compound fracture of her right arm failed to heal and eventually, the arm had to be amputated in Northern District Hospital in Luganville. Further complications set in with more operations. It was a very long path to recovery.

Marceline had to leave school and stay home. It was very difficult. She really missed school, learning and her friends but didn’t give up. Marceline continued to show real courage and determination to overcome the situation. Marceline tells the story of her path to representing her country at the Pacific Mini Games in Port Vila in December 2017, Commonwealth Games in Australia in April 2018, the Melanesian Championships in May 2018 and now the Pacific Games in Samoa in July 2019.

“I became involved with sport. Sport really helped me with my self-confidence and fitness. I went back to school, even though I was much older than all of my classmates — but I did not let that deter me. I want to be a lawyer when I’m older so I need to study very hard to get good results and a scholarship.”

“I am 16 now and am just completing Year 7 at Santo East Secondary School. I apply the same determination on the sports track to school work — not just do well but to excel. After the Min Games in Vila, I was selected for the short list of 11 para-athletes to try out for the Commonwealth Games in 2018. My results just kept on improving, so I was included in the team of five going to Australia for Commonwealth Games pre-selection. I had never previously travelled anywhere by plane, but there I was flying to Australia for the pre-selection camp and the Games themselves — the Commonwealth Games in Australia on the Gold Coast in April 2018 and now to Samoa.

At the Commonwealth Games, Marceline competed in the F47 Javelin section and two running events, competing in front of 22,000 spectators wearing the colours of her country with “PBs” – Personal Bests in all of her events. This added to her two bronze medals she had won at the Melanesian championships in May 2018 for 100m and 400 metres races.

“When the Vanuatu flag went up on the flagpole in Australia, I was just so proud! I came back to Vanuatu where I kept training but also talking on radio, TV and at schools, raising awareness of the serious issues faced by those of us in Vanuatu living with a disability. I am a “Change Champion,” spreading better understanding and growing community acceptance of people like me living with a physical impairment.”

With the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games are only 12 months away. Marceline is still gaining skills, fitness and experience. Her running is good but so too is her shot put and javelin.

Two high performance Paralympic coaches, Chris Nunn and Chris Knight, are being brought with funding from the Nippon Sports and Science University (NSSU) to Vanuatu on 9th, 10th and 11th October for a Throwing Clinic to train para-coaches from around the Pacific (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, PNG and of course Vanuatu) in throwing – shot put, discus and javelin. Vanuatu para coaches and para athletes will also attend. This should see improvements in distances and speeds for the Vanuatu Para squads from Tanna, Santo, Malekula and Efate — and perhaps that bold dream of Paralympic qualification.

Marceline’s results in running and javelin are not too far away from prequalification standards for Tokyo. She is only 1.56m off meeting qualification in javelin for her classification, so with this further coaching and more hard work, wearing Vanuatu colours as part of Team Vanuatu is not an impossible dream. Of course, there’s the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Marceline’s advice to others with big dreams in sport?

“Dare to dream!”

Then with a cheeky grin, Marceline added further words of wisdom…

“And don’t climb mango trees!”

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