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AMAZING MANAMI IS HEADING TO PARIS!

Sacrifice, dedication key to living the Olympic Dream

By Jay Leon Guerrero

After all the sacrifice, sweat, and dedication, Manami Iijima-Martin has accomplished her goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris.

The only two-time GSPN Athlete of the Year recipient (2017,2023), Iijima-Martin traveled the globe representing Guam against the world’s best in the gruesome sport of Triathlon, sacrificing time away from family to pursue her dream. With each race, Iijima-Martin continued to improve on her times and earn valuable points to surge up the rankings.

Manami Iijima-Martin finished in the Top 10 in the Osaka Triathlon over the weekend. She qualifies for the Paris Olympics to represent Guam and Oceania. (courtesy photo)

The goal was to be in the top 180 in rankings by the cutoff date, which was May 27.

The Guam Triathlon Federation announced on their Facebook page that Iijima-Martin moved up 10 spots in the world rankings and now sits at number 137, more than enough to qualify for the Olympics.

Her last race before the cutoff date was over the weekend in Osaka, Japan. Her 9th place finishing performance in Japan was just icing on the cake for Iijima-Martin.

“I love triathlon a lot! I’d say I’m very lucky to focus on something I’m passionate about. It was a lot of travel, being away from family and home, but I wouldn’t change a thing,” Iijima-Martin. “The team I have around me understands what I need to do, and I know what i need to do, so I don’t feel like it is a sacrifice.”

Iijima-Martin (white helmet) has competed across the globe to earn points on the pro circuit in order to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris this summer. (courtesy photo)

Now that Manami is qualified for the Games, there’s still much work to be done. There is little time to celebrate as she makes her way back to Guam after enjoying a few days in Japan with her husband, Jon Martin.

“I’ll be home all of June, and I’ll have a solid training block,” said Iijima. “Then it’s off to Europe to race a couple races before the Olympics and be in the time zone.”

Also, for the first time in Olympic history, the Oceania Flag will be used for the Games. Iijima-Martin will be a representative under the Oceania region, which includes Island nations in the Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand.

Girl Power

Team Guam now has three athletes who have earned their spot in the Olympics, and all athletes are female. Iijima-Martin joins sisters Mia and R’kaela Aquino. The Aquino sisters, representing the Guam Amatuer Wrestling Federation, earned their spot in March.

Manami is also a National Triathlon Champion (finishing ahead of male competitors) and recently won two gold medals at the Mini Pacific Games last year in Saipan.

The road to Paris was not a solo journey with too many people to mention that has helped her along the way. But here are the few Manami thanked: “Jon, my mom and sister, family and friends, GNOC, Craig Weymouth, and all my training buddies.” 

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COMING SOON …

Guam National Bodybuilding Championship June 29

Father Duenas Alumni Basketball Tournament

Guam National Triathlon Championship July 14

QUICK HITS

Ryleen Mya Castro was named team MVP for the St. Mary’s College of California Women’s Rugby team in only her sophomore season. Castro is a 2022 graduate from Guam High.
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Coach Donan Cruz and the U.S. Men’s U21 National Team took home gold at the 2024 NORCECA Continental Championship with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 27-25) win over Canada in Nogales, Mexico. The victory guaranteed the U.S. a spot in the 2025 FIVB U21 World Championship.

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