By Michael J.A. Nauta Jr.
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In a little less than a week, a contingent of Guam’s top athletes will be in Phonpei as the 8th Micronesian Games are set to begin. With the several sports being represented, Team Guam will put forth their best efforts in hopes of bringing home several medals. One group in particular will take their talents and experiences to the water for some intense paddling competition.
After putting long hours of preparation and practicing, the Guam Women’s Paddling team are ready to showcase what their hard work and efforts have led them to. Led by coach Afshin Amoui, the group of ten paddlers will bring to the ocean an array of experience levels that eventually creates a very competitive group of athletes.
“We will definitely go to the games ready to take on a challenge,” said Amoui. “Our expectations for the team is that we enter the games ready to execute, maintain our stroke, glide, stay strong, and always remember teamwork in every event that we compete in and in the end hope to achieve gold.”
Team Guam will be paddling in three different events to include the 500-meter sprint, 1500-meter sprint, and the 15k distance race. With different paddlers having their respective strengths, Coach Amoui hopes to capitalize in areas needed to come out successful.
“We always compete to the best of our abilities in hopes of finishing the best we can,” said Amoui. “However, as we stroke our way through the waters in each event will also want to be able to gain more experience and knowledge of everything the sport has to offer.”
The outrigger canoes will be filled with the following Team Guam athletes:
Francine Taman Galao
According to Amoui the team has about seven athletes with three or less years of experience in paddling, but remains optimistic about what Guam is capable of accomplishing.
“We’ve been preparing for the games by practicing in the canoe four times a week to include strength, sprints, and distances. In addition the ladies continue to train on their own in the mornings at their respective gyms and cross-fit boxes,” said Amoui. “So ultimately whether its three years of experience or ten years of experience, we are ready to compete.”
Amoui adds that the playing field changes from time to time due to different paddlers, coaches, and or conditions. However, he mentions that Team Palau will be one of the tougher teams to compete against. “Historically speaking Team Palau has consistently been a very strong team.”
Competition is scheduled to take place several days after the opening ceremonies. The 500m and 1500m competition will take place on the same day, while the 15-kilometer distance race begins two days later.
Before heading out to the games, Coach Amoui sends a very special thank you to family, friends, and supporters. “Thank-you to everyone who has contributed in one way another from home all the way to the games. Additionally thanks to GNOC and GKCF for the support and guidance.”
Men’s team will strive to accomplish a common goal
Much like their sister team, the Guam Men’s Paddling team is ready to head out to Phonpei and compete against some of our regions fiercest teams. According to Coach David Palomo there is a lot of expectations for the team from himself as well as the players themselves.
“The men on the team and myself expect the competition to be extremely tough,” said Palomo. “We most definitely not take anyone lightly as we are sure that other teams will bring fierceness. However, in the end we will leave the water with no regrets knowing we gave all that we could.”
After several months of practices that included two to two and a half miles of running prior to entering the water, Team Guam will also bring ten men who are ready to stroke their way to victory. However, Coach Palomo and the team do recognize several challenges will be in their way with their biggest being competing in unknown territory.
“Our challenge will be the fact that we are competing in new territory, so we have to be concerned about water currents, wind direction, dead spots to name a few,” said Palomo. “Our biggest competition will be every other team that is competing.”
Together with Coach Palomo and Manager Grant Bickel, Team Guam will be represented by these gentlemen:
Adam James Palomo
Team Captain Richard Valentine.
This group of men will be competing in the 500m, 1500m, and 20km events.
The men from Guam have put a great deal of time and effort. Through all their hard work, the entire team has set a common goal for themselves. “We want everyone to gain experience as well as a lifetime feeling of what it takes to be part of a team trying to accomplish a goal,” said Palomo. “Team Guam’s goal is to ‘bring home the gold’ not only for the team but for the island of Guam.
Let the games begin!
The clock continues to tick before athletes gathered in Phonpei hear the old saying of “Let the Games Begin” signifying the opening and start of the 8th Micronesian Games. On behalf of GSPN (Guam Sports Network) and the people of Guam, “GOOD LUCK to all teams and athletes!”
GPS Sports Calendar