WINNING a medal irrespective if it is gold, silver or bronze for your country at such an event as the Pacific Games, or any games for that matter, is an achievement of a lifetime.
That is how Paulini Korowaqa felt when she stood on the victory dais in Apia, Samoa two weeks ago to receive the silver medal for the women's 4x400m relay.
Fiji slipped behind the Papua New Guinea team which took the gold but for the 16-year-old student of Ballantine Memorial School at Delainavesi, Lami, it was something to remember.
Paulini ran in the women's 4x400m relay with track queen Makelesi Bulikiobo and was third in the women's 400m for the bronze medal, where Makelesi won the gold.
Although she has not fully achieved her goal of winning a gold medal, Paulini is glad she came back with something.
It was her biggest achievement so far in such a big event that only comes once in four years for the best athletes and sportspeople in the Pacific region.
"I am happy that at least I got something back.
"I admit it was disappointing to lose the gold in the 4x400m which was won by the PNG girl but I told myself it is all right because I managed to end up in second place," she said.
"My friends and family were very happy with my performance and I am happy about it.
"The most important thing was that I was part of such a big event and this is my biggest achievement."
Achieving positive results on the track or any arena in any sports, she says, is not an easy thing to do.
"The training bit and preparing for the event is very tough," she said.
"I had to wake up at 4am every day for three weeks to go and train at the national stadium.
"I had to go through three weeks of intensive training and I am glad I had coaches of the calibre and experience of Albert Miller and Jone Delai to train me.
"The training was tough but I was told that I had to work hard if I wanted to get somewhere."
She is glad she did not have to sit for any external exam this year.
"I managed to cope with my school work and getting updated with my subjects," she said.
"The school was really supportive and gave me space." Paulini is a boarder at BMS and comes from Nairukuruku Village in Naitasiri.
She is the youngest and only sister of three brothers.
She was part of the 4x400m team which went to the Oceania Games in Australia last month to build up for the Pacific Games and won silver.
Paulini made her mark at the secondary schools Coca-Cola Games in Suva, winning gold for BMS in the girls 400m.
"This year I won gold in 400m and silver in the 800m," she said.
"Last year I won silver in the 400m and the other year I managed to win bronze, so the gold medal is my next target at the Pacific Games."
Her outstanding performance at the Coke Games won her a place in the Fiji women's track team to the SPG. She was one of the many students who were members of the Team Fiji contingent.
"What keeps me going is the support I receive from my family, my friends and teachers at school," she said.
"Without their support and encouragement I would not have come this far."
Paulini said the good thing about taking part in sports was the chance to travel and see places.
"I like having trips and I really enjoy it when I travel out of Fiji to participate in major events.
"That is the fun bit.
"I love this part of the sport."
Paulini said she would like to be a professional athlete in future and will never give up the sport just yet.
Adapted from Fijitimes Online