TWO TIME OLYMPIAN ADDRESSES THE NDP SQUADS
Mr. Stuart asked me to give a short message to the National Basketball Teams about a month ago, and ever since then, I’ve been worried and very nervous, since I’m not a public speaker, like some of you in this room so please bare with me. I know most of you (Kiruu, Jaime, Happy, and more) have participated in the sports almost the same time as I am, so I’m sure you know most of what I’ll be sharing with you tonight.
So, what I will do is just to share with you my story on how I became one of Palau’s elite athlete and making it to the two Olympic Games.
When I won my first gold medal in 1993, during the Interstate Games boosted my interest in participating in Athletics Program. As you know, I’m a very small person, but after that year, I figured that age and size doesn’t matter when it comes to sports. I competed against women who were twice my age and taller than me, but I learned to be focused when it comes down to my competition. During those years, there were not enough competitions for us to participate, so basically I only competed once a year and it took me at least two months to train prior to those competitions.
In 1994, I desperately wanted to participate in the Micronesian Games, but because I joined the team late and didn’t have enough training, I wasn’t able to make the team, so I went to Guam as an alternate athlete. That year, I was the 2nd fastest woman in Palau, but wasn’t able to compete, so it really hurt me, and I promised myself and the Chairman of Team Palau that year, that in the next 4 years, when the game comes to Palau, I will win all the medals( meaning in the 100m and the 200m event.) It’s a promised that I made, and was kept with me when I left Palau in 1995, to the states to continue my education.
When I graduated in 1997, I came to Palau and left to Athens, Greece to represented Palau in the World Athletics Championships, beating 4 out of 95 women in the 100m event. This was my first big competition and I was very scared to be amongst the top women athletes of the World, but then again I returned home with a different view of what an athlete should do in preparation for any competition.
When I returned back to the states, I joined the Athletics Program in college thinking that I have to return home and represent Palau for the Micronesian Games, and of course the promised I made to myself in 1994.
After my 1st year of college, I returned home and continued training for the Micronesian Games. Team Palau training was from Monday to Fridays at 5pm. I decided to do extra work, so I trained three times a day, gym workout from 11am-12pm, 2pm – 3pm on the beach, and from 5-6:30 at the track with the national team, up until the games. When Micro Games started, I was physically and mentally prepared. I was sure of myself that the promised I made in 1994 will finally happen, and deep down in my heart, I never wanted to lose in front of my family and the whole Republic of Palau.
The 1998 Micronesian Games finished with a lot of smile, and good comments from the community, and it made me happy. All the sweat and hard work is finally paid off.
After the Micro Games, I went back to school for another year, and when I returned home, started training for the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
I made a lot of sacrifices during the time I was preparing for the Olympic Games; I didn’t go to school; I stopped going out with my friends as much as I wanted; I didn’t work- living off of my mom; boyfriend/girlfriend stuff was not an issue was never an issue for me at that time.
There were times when I had to leave Palau with my mom, being mad at me because she just wanted me to finish my education, but I told myself that I already committed myself that I will go to the Olympic Games and I want to set a National Record and nothing will stop me from accomplishing my goal. It’s not easy to be away from home knowing that your mom or dad is not happy with what you’re doing, but if you have decided to do it, you’ll need to give it all you got and make sure you’ll accomplish is well and that they can be proud of.
IT’S NEVER EASY TO BE INVOLVED IN THE SPORTS. Yes, the game time is fun and exciting but the preparation phase is the hardest and it takes a lot of sacrifices and hard work to prepare for that one day, one week of fun, and if you finish the game knowing that you were physically and mentally prepared 100% for it, you definitely will be happy, and that happiness is history that will last a life time.
I came home after the Olympic Games in 2000, feeling like one of the powerful and respected person alive, with my mom and the Whole Republic of Palau in the airport to welcoming all of us home. That moment……was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I’m sure some of you have experienced the same feeling that I did, and you know it feels good.
Compare the Sydney Olympic Games and the Beijing Olympics, Beijing was much harder experience for me. It took me less than a year to prepare and most of the sacrifices I took was much painful than in Sydney Games.
As you all know, I have a daughter who is 4 years old now, and leaving her was the worst. I left Palau in July 2008 for another month of intense training in Australia, and that month was one of the longest month ever……I couldn’t sleep at night, fighting the cold weather, and plus I had shin problems, which made the training extra hard for me. I managed to complete the training program and made it to Beijing Games. My result during Beijing Games was not as good as Sydney Games, but I was satisfied with my result, after I found out that I beat seven out of nine women from Oceania Region. Two months before we met in Beijing, we competed against each other in CNMI, during an Oceania Championships, and I lost to 4 of the Oceania Women, so I was very excited, but in the back of my mind, I was thinking……..What if? And I Wish! So, the message I want to share with you is that, give it all you’ve got, if you’ve decided to participate the basketball team for Micronesian games, so when it’s over, don’t be having those regrets that I did…..I wish and what if……
Trust me, if you commit yourself that you’ll join the team; you will have to set some goals, make your plans on how you’ll achieve that goal and work hard for it. It’s never easy……but it is possible…..
Thank you once again!