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Guam's Olympic potential hampered

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Guam's Olympic potential hampered

by Pacific Daily News

If you were born around the1960s, chances are you were a student at the Guam Academy of Music and Arts. It was a reddish-brown building down the street from the Agana Cathedral.

Everyone took lessons from the Dela Cruz family.

I took piano lessons on Thursday afternoons. I also took ballet. Mrs. Morgan was my instructor. I remember my pink toe shoes. Every Saturday morning, a group of us would plié and leap across the floor. I absolutely loved it.

Today, as I battle the mid-life bulge, thoughts of returning to ballet flutter through my mind. Flutter is the key word there.

Knowing that my schedule must be flexible, I settled for activity that was just as flexible. So, I've returned to walking and a little -- very little -- bit of running.

This exercise you can do in any weather. Finding a place was another story. While the neighborhood would have been convenient, it's full of opinionated dogs. Not my cup of tea.

The Paseo Loop is good. Watching the boats, the canoe-builders, the kids playing, the people fishing, the business at the Chamorro Village, is uplifting.

The Tiyan route is somehow bothersome. Buildings are being leveled. Roads are being shifted. Because there are many isolated spots at Tiyan, it would be easy for someone to get hurt and not helped.

My sister does the Tumon route, so I thought of that. And while it would be interesting to see tourism in action, the exhaust from the buses makes me gag even when my windows are up.

Duch recommended the University of Guam. I have now found my ideal route. During certain segments, you can see and hear the students buzz about their business. Another section treats you to the ocean. At the same time, there's still plenty of open space to breathe and think clearly.

During the last couple of weeks, as I walked, I thought of Jojo Santo Tomas' insightful accounts of our Guam athletes at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. My appreciation of their efforts grows.

But, I also feel badly. At this time, it's almost impossible to live on our island and grow into an Olympic medal winner.

Not because we don't have the potential for award-winning performances in certain sports, but because we don't support the development of athletics throughout our systems. The focus and discipline required from the earliest years to deliver the highest standards of achievement doesn't happen here.

Programs complete with funding support for facilities, coaches, training schedules, competition events, travel opportunities and whatever else goes into the mix for Olympic competition need to be fostered. Training needs to be continuous. Programs need to articulate from those for preschoolers to childhood to middle school to high school and beyond.

While the networking at the Olympics is awesome, as is the opportunity to see star athletes, it would be even better if our island provided the needed support to help our island athletes actually develop their full potential so that their chances of getting that medal are real.

Perhaps our current star athletes -- Maria Dunn, Derek Mandell, Sean Pangelinan, R.J. Blas, Cora Alicto and Chris Duenas -- can ask all previous Guam stars from the Olympics, South Pacific Games and Micronesian Games to help develop what needs to be improved on our island to help them get the gold.

Coaches would contribute significant perspectives, as will family members. Reporters would also be in a position to contribute thoughts because of all of the observations they make as they pay attention to the actual events. Families who have actually transplanted their children to the U.S. mainland to benefit from sports programs offered there should also be invited to the table.

Then again, maybe this has already occurred and I don't know about it.

What I do know is that Guam people have the potential to get the gold. Like everyone else, however, they need the support and training from the very beginning to achieve it.

In the meanwhile, my personal Olympics have me enjoying the sights and sounds of overflowing UOG parking lots.

The Olympics of the minds is in full gear. May the achievements begin!

And, hopefully the bulge disappears.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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