HONORING THE PHILIPPINES’ 10 WOMEN OF THE WORLD 2008
Ani Karina S. de Leon
Program Manager, Pinay In Action Women Empowerment through Fitness Program, Office of Senator Pia Cayetano. www.pinayinaction.com
Program Manager, SuperKids Triathlon Youth Development Program, Triathlon Association of the Philippines. www.superkids.triathlon.org.ph
1) To what or to whom do you attribute your success and why?
Growing up in a very dynamic household greatly contributed to that. It was generally frowned upon at home to be idle, so we would be either drawing, playing the piano, writing homemade books, etc…watching tv definitely didn’t count as an activity and was highly discouraged! My parents, even now, are always spearheading all sorts of projects which have a positive impact on society and culture, and this kind of self-confidence and awareness—that I have to be involved in endeavors that make a difference—are ingrained in me as a result of this. They already taught me how to have a good work ethic, and it was just a matter of finding something which I could be passionate about…which turned out to be sharing my love for sports to others and encouraging people to have a fit and healthy lifestyle.
2) Please describe the instance (when, where, what year, what occasion, who were with you) when you felt you had achieved success.
Although I would like to emphasize the fact that there have been many significant moments of triumph for me along the way, I certainly felt that when I won my category in the Ironman Malaysia Triathlon in February this year, everything just came together. I was competing as part of a big Philippine contingent, and representing the country always makes me give more of myself. I was crying when I crossed the finish line because I knew I had won, and it was perfect because I finished at the same time with two of my male training partners, Maiqui and Mark. We had a big hug and even for weeks afterward I felt such relief and happiness that all my years of dedicating blood, sweat, and tears to the sport were finally rewarded—my win had entitled me a slot in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
3) What do you consider your greatest achievement? Why?
It’s still a work in progress, but I genuinely believe that my own successes partnered with the successes of the women and juniors whom I coach are going to be my greatest achievement. And this doesn’t mean just in the athletic arena. When I coach or hold clinics I always try to convey the message that success in sports or simply possessing good physical fitness will affect all the other aspects of your life positively. When I win, I become more credible to the people who look up to me, most important of whom are the kids and young women.
4) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
I like to be involved with so many things, and since I like to work on my own, most of the time I end up with so much backlog!
5) What else do you want to achieve in the next five years? Why?
Personally, I’d like to see how far I can go with racing this specific distance for triathlon, which is the Ironman (3.8km Swim, 180km Bike, & 42km Run). I have only started to race this long and I think I like it much more than short distance racing.
In terms of the programs I am involved in, Pinay In Action and SuperKids, I’d like to see them evolve and become highly successful. I am hoping to have more squads located all over the country, preferably with more like-minded coaches helping me carry it out.
6) What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge Filipinos face right now?
The great thing about us Pinoys is that we are extremely resourceful, and that is how we have been getting by so far. But I think to be even competitive internationally, we need a better roadmap, something that we can build on long term—and more importantly a way to implement these plans.
7) Which historical figure do you most identify with? Why?
In Philippine History I would have to say Gabriela Silang. She led an army of men without fear and the fact that she was a woman was inconsequential to her. The amazing thing for me is that the Katipuneros truly followed her, which is hard for most men to do even up to today, and that only means that she must have been a genuine person of influence and a force to be reckoned with.
8) What do you like most about your appearance?
I like the fact that I look really strong, and that I can actually back it up! My physique is something that takes discipline to maintain, and that in itself is a quiet pronouncement of my character.
9) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
When it comes to certain things (i.e. boring but necessary paperwork) I tend to procrastinate.
10) What is your most treasured possession?
Right now it’s definitely my CEEPO Time Trial Killer bike. They made a custom-designed frame for me courtesy of Jerry Santos. It goes wherever I go!
11) Who are your favorite writers? Have any of them influenced the way you think and act? How?
I tend to gravitate towards autobiographies of sports heroes, because I can certainly relate to and learn from them. Some of my favorites are Lance Armstrong’s “It’s Not About the Bike,” Dean Karnazes’ “Ultra Marathon Man,” Lynn Cox’s “Swimming To Antarctica,” and “The Perfect Mile” by Sir Roger Bannister. Right now I’m reading Summer Sanders’ “Champions are Raised, Not Born.”
12) What motto or creed of life do you live by?
Life is a great adventure. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Staying in one’s comfort zone breeds mediocrity. Okay, those were three mottos already, haha.