Sharon Firisua showed that we have the potential to compete at the highest levels, even though she was not able to qualify for medal contention.

Sharon completed a personal best at the Tokyo Olympic Games, which, as it turned out, was also a national record for Solomon Islands woman – clocking 3:02:10.

Like any other good athletes Sharon was encouraged to take up the sport by those closest to her. In an interview on Paoa FM she said that her uncle was the one that pushed her to take up distant running.

"I never thought of being an athlete as a career, it never crossed my mind, but thanks to my late uncle David Firisua and my family, they pushed me to be on the track,” Sharon said.

Her philosophy in sports is quite simple, it is important that one enjoys the sport, and she encourages young girls to pick a sport that they enjoy, and develop their talent.

"I want to encourage more girls to join in with a sport. Whatever sport you do, do it with the talent you have got and enjoy it. The main thing is that you enjoy your sport," she told ABC International in a recent interview.

Solomon Islands may not have the kinds of facilities that others have, or the technical support from well-trained coaches. But one thing we do have is a sizeable pool of natural talents, this is obvious during the recent National Secondary School Games (NSSC).

To be able to compete at the highest levels we need to have a talent identification program, one that is tied to the school curricular. For example, those that are identified during an event such as the secondary school games should be put on a sports scholarship, and schools should be supported with the necessary equipment’s to develop such talents – it does not cost much to implement such a program.

Those that do extremely well should be put on an international or regional sports scholarship, schools should work with local sports federations and push for placements in regional or international institutions that caters for both academic and sporting development for talented individuals.

To compete at the highest levels, we need to expose our young talents to the kinds of facilities and technical coaching that will help them realize their full potential. Perhaps the newly established sports institute could develop such a program, but it has to be linked with other sporting institutes that have the technical knowledge and skill sets. In today’s sporting world one’s understanding of the science behind the sports is very important.

Going beyond our personal best requires investment in sports, we will soon have top class facilities, so we need to match that with top class planning. Plan for the future and develop an early interest with our young sporting talents – develop a clear pathway for them which combines both academic and sporting development. Such planning will ensure that our personal best is comparable to the world’s finest athletes.