She was just four years old, watching her two older brothers in the sidelines while they did their ‘poomsae’ (or forms) and sparring during their Taekwondo training. Today at 20, Mary Antoinette Rivero or Toni as she is called, is no longer a mere spectator. She is now at the center of all the action. All eyes will be on Toni at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, her second stint at the most-awaited Summer Games, having participated as the youngest competitor in Athens last 2004. Toni is determined to do the best she can in the upcoming Olympics. “This year, being my second time at the Olympic games, I plan to surpass what I reached in Athens and to do this, it’s important to be positive, determined, focused and patient.” Toni made it into the finals in the 2004 Olympic games when she was just 16 years old. The 5 foot 8 Olympian has conditioned her mind into winning. “One of the best attitudes of Filipino athletes that I’ve observed is the fact that we won’t leave without putting up a good fight. Filipinos are also known for being brave and driven with an unmatched fighting spirit.” Toni’s positive disposition most probably comes from the unwavering support she gets from her family. She adds, “Knowing that my parents and family support me is really a big factor in my performance.” Athleticism definitely runs in the Rivero family. Toni’s mom and dad were both into martial arts while her two older brothers are national Taekwondo team members as well. “I love Taekwondo especially with my family’s influence. If my sport wasn’t Taekwondo, I’d still stick with martial arts,” said Toni with conviction. Having siblings who are also part of the national team proved to be an advantage for Toni. “My brothers share their techniques and help me in my training.” The normal training schedule for Toni consists of three sparring trainings per day, one in the morning, one before lunch and one at night. She also lifts weights and runs for added strength and agility. The support of the Filipino people is an added motivation for our athletes as attested by Toni. During the Manila SEA Games in 2005, Toni felt the added boost when she felt the support from her countrymen. “Iba pag nagko-compete ka sa home country mo, hindi lang yung athletes yung sumusuporta, pati yung Filipino people,” she enthused in the vernacular. “It’s really different when you have everybody’s support.” Enjoining the Filipino people to rally behind our athletes is the main reason why Microsoft Philippines decided to embark in the Olympinoy campaign in partnership with the Philippine Olympic Committee. The main goal of the campaign is to empower our Filipino athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and provide the channel for all Filipinos to show their support for the Olympians. Microsoft Philippines Managing Director Rafael Rollan said, “Honoring our athletes by showing our support is already a big enough boost for them, especially in the upcoming Olympics. We want to heighten that support for our athletes through Olympinoy. This way, Filipinos everywhere would know that we have young individuals like Toni competing not only for themselves, but for national pride.” Toni appreciates initiatives that support Filipino athletes like her. “This campaign will help us a lot. As an athlete, it is important to have the exposure that would boost your morale and make other Filipinos aware of what we’re doing to help bring honor to the country.” Tshomlee Go, the other Filipino Taekwondo Jin who qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will train with Toni for three months in Korea prior to the summer games in August. After the Olympics Toni plans to continue her Taekwondo training and focus on their family project to put up a gym dedicated to Taekwondo, which may well be the training ground for future Olympians. At her young age, Toni has proven that one can live her dream as long as she sets her mind into it and imbibe values such as respect, patience and determination. Having mastered the way of the foot and the fist, with Toni, nothing is impossible.
Blog Credits: Microsoft Olympinoy