My name is Daimi Aza and I’m a rhythmic gymnastics athlete in Special Olympics Puerto Rico. I’m the only Puerto Rican gymnast to compete in Level 3, and that makes me feel great because I have trained really hard. I like Rhythmic Gymnastics because of the routines, because when I participate in events, it makes me proud to perform well in my routines.
But, it has not been easy. Hurricane Maria destroyed my whole country, and my family and me lost everything. We had to keep moving on despite this, with the help of people that we love and who love us back. If one person did not have something, like ice or some basic necessity, another person would come and share it with them. We shared a lot of things between friends and neighbors, and that was very powerful and nice.
When there are competitions, I always believe in myself, of being able to do it, and I feel strong inside. Sports have helped me develop myself and strengthen my discipline.
After the Hurricane, I didn’t let that discourage me and kept training hard to prepare for the Abu Dhabi World Games, with the support of my family, my trainer, and my teammates. You really have to be prepared for World Games, and be ready when the time comes. Special Olympics helped me a lot, because when I trained, it made me feel better and I could focus on that feeling.
When we went to Abu Dhabi, I really liked visiting the Mosque and I loved the zoo, but what I liked the most was the torch run in the World Games. There were so many people watching, and it made me feel so proud to be carrying the torch in the name of my country.
For a moment, I didn’t think I was going to win any medals, but I won a total of three bronze medals and two silver medals. This made me feel really good.
Throughout my whole life, sports have been important and good. When I train, I feel happy and proud. When there are competitions, I always believe in myself, of being able to do it, and I feel strong inside. Sports have helped me develop myself and strengthen my discipline. They have helped me improve my behavior and my concentration, so I can do things right.
My family and my country have been my rock and my motivation; they give me strength. I have represented Puerto Rico in the Abu Dhabi World Games (2019), the Latin American Games in Panama (2017) and the World Games in Los Angeles (2015). I am very happy to represent my country, and I’ll always be. I keep training because of all the great experiences that I’ve had, which help me grow.
I’d like to tell my fellow athletes to keep training and improving themselves, so they are ready to give their best when they have an event. And to look at all the travel and learning opportunities Special Olympics has to offer.
And for those that don’t know Special Olympics, I’d like to invite them to watch us train and compete. Invite them to participate as well, and see how beautiful it is, and how important programs like Healthy Athletes. One learns a lot. Special Olympics has helped me become a better athlete and a better person. And it has helped my family in rough times, like Hurricane Maria. And for that, I am happy and grateful.