By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Flag bearer and 2 times Olympian Elinah Phillip carried the flag, debutant Kyron McMaster and the BVI’s only 3-times Olympian who is the Chef de Mission, Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, marched into Tokyo Olympic Games stadium on Friday, flashing the territory’s national attire before a global audience.
“It was really exciting,” BVI Olympic Committee President Ephraim Penn, who was going through quarantine at the time of the ceremony, told Island Sun Sports. “Sofia (Fay) sent me a link and we were watching it together and it was really a pleasure to watch the team as they marched in the territorial colors and really represented the British Virgin Islands very well. They made a lot of sacrifices to be there and we look forward to great performances from them as the Games develop.”
Phillip, a 50m free swimmer, said she was definitely ‘very, very proud to be carrying the flag.’
“It made me very happy and I hope that I made everyone in the BVI proud,” she said. “It was definitely noticeably different (to Rio 2016) and you could tell they were making an effort to keep everyone spread out and socially distanced. The marching definitely started and finished much quicker and I think that was to avoid crowding which we could do in Rio, that was the main difference and also seeing the stands empty was noticeable, because you couldn’t hear the crowd.”
When she returned to the Olympic Games Village, Phillip said among the many messages was one from her sister Amarah who represented the territory in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games .
“She said I looked really beautiful and she and my Mom, were really proud of me,” Phillip said.
Her coach Brien Moffit of Florida International University, said through her Olympic journey, Elinah had been seeing support from every level.
“It’s a great sense of pride in what a family member is doing,” he said. “There’s just a great sense of pride to see a teammate and family member out, at the forefront of their country.”
McMaster, who didn’t know what to expect said he thought it was ‘beautiful.’
“I went in there with an open mind, expecting every and anything and I enjoyed it,” he said, noting the size when he walked into the stadium. “That stadium was huge and it gave me the euphoric energy that I can’t wait to run here. I only wished we could have had spectators as it would be such a magnificent experience to be running in front of and spreading the joy.”
Harrigan-Scott who saw the 2008 Beijing opening ceremony—the only time in her three appearances as an athlete—said she’d like to see organizers giving athletes that opportunity, since they never see that show that is being put on for the world to see—something she thinks needs to be revisited.
Regarding their territorial attire, Harrigan-Scott said: “We received a very positive response about our national wear, Renique Cooper did an exceptional job with the dress that she made for us—everyone was so amazed how nice we looked and complimented us greatly on our dress,” she said, thanking Cooper, Ruth Frazer and Kristin Frazer for their contribution to the attire.
With the formalities out the way, Penn described the team as ‘special’ and having resilience after sitting out for a year and said one can see that they didn’t lose faith or focus.
“I think we may be in for a few surprises, if things go to plan,” he said. “These athletes are ready. They have dedicated two plus years and for a small country, I think we may surprise some people.”