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National Taekwondo Athlete Shares How She Successfully Balances Academics & Sports

Friday, September 23, 2011

Philippine National Taekwondo Team member Pauline Marie Cipriano

Excellence is not only for adults. In fact, many kids nowadays have more realistic answers to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” even naming esteemed people in industries and promising to be like them. With such aspirations, children already have better grasp of the importance of education in their lives.

However, for those who have interests other than excelling academically, how difficult could it be to follow their dreams without neglecting their studies? For Malayan High School of Science (MHSS) student and taekwondo athlete Pauline Marie P. Cipriano, a balance between studies and other interests such as sports is important to ensure a student’s holistic development.

Cipriano is one of MHSS’ sources of pride. With her exceptional skills and dedication to her sport, she has been winning in several competitions in the country yearly. However, she points out that all the honors did not come easily.

At the early age of 6, Cipriano started training in taekwondo after being urged by her parents to follow in her brother and sister’s footsteps. She attended difficult trainings once a week, which initially intimidated her with the strict rules and harsh punishments for breaking them. However, as Cipriano slowly discovered her abilities and learned so many things from the sport, she finally realized that taekwondo was one thing that she would always love to do.

“The continuous training only helped me to improve in this sport. Every session, there was always a new technique to learn. There was always an opportunity to grow. Every time I went a level higher or won in a competition, there was always a sense of pride that would only drive me to do better, to work harder. Taekwondo had also been my source of enjoyment and a way for me to meet new friends.”

Training soon became more rigid for Cipriano as she began joining competitions around the metro. Now, she is a first dan black belter, has been winning awards in almost each tournament she participates in, and has become part of the Philippine National Taekwondo Team. The latter entails more of her time and effort, requiring her to attend daily two- to three-hour trainings.

Setting her priorities

Although a great deal of time needs to be spent on trainings, Cipriano still manages to find time to focus on her other responsibilities, most especially her studies.

“My education remains to be my top priority. Despite the physically challenging requirements of taekwondo, I still make sure that I don’t neglect my studies because it is really tough to be at MHSS. And this is just high school. College still awaits me, and it is a lot different, a lot more challenging.”

Cipriano sees to it that her daily schedule allows her enough time to study and consult teachers and classmates for difficult lessons. Once in college, she plans to devote less time to taekwondo to make way for the realization of her biggest dream of becoming a civil engineer.

MHSS principal Dr. Efren B. Mateo is one of those who are happy for what Cipriano has achieved thus far. But more than awards, Dr. Mateo is prouder of her equal dedication to her studies.

“Pauline has done our school proud with her performance. At the same time, as a student, she is not neglecting her studies. So we are even happier that she can create a balance between her studies and the athletics.”

Dr. Mateo further emphasized that it is important to the school to support its students like Cipriano in their interests and help them reach their dreams. For this, MHSS ensures that its students get to be involved in activities that will help them hone their talents.

Competitions and achievements

Among the biggest competitions Cipriano participated in was the Little Milo Olympics, wherein she won the bronze and silver medals in 2010 and 2011, respectively. But the most important and memorable tournament for her was the Carlos Palanca Jr. Taekwondo Championship held last February, wherein she won the silver medal. This greatly helped her in getting in the national team.

“Winning the silver granted me a 50% chance of becoming part of the Philippine National Taekwondo Team, and I was so thankful because I really wanted to join the team and be able to represent our country.”

Supported by family

For every struggle and triumph, Cipriano’s family is there to back her up and celebrate with her. Her mother Mariza has been constantly inspiring her to succeed in her craft.

“I am really proud to have kids who do taekwondo, especially that they are also multi-awarded athletes. They have achieved so much through their hard work and perseverance.”

To her, encouraging her children to engage in sports was a wise decision, as apart from teaching self-defense, it also helps in developing one’s character.

Learnings are rewards

Cipriano considers her achievements in taekwondo as the fruits of all her hard work. But apart from these, Cipriano considers the values she developed through the sport as more invaluable blessings that will help her get through life and achieve personal success.

“It took me a lot of hard work to get to where I am right now. It is important that you have discipline to endure the hard trainings. You have to have respect for other people, most especially for your opponents in competitions. You must never underestimate them because there is no telling what they can do. You have to be humble about your skills and achievement. Lastly, you have to have self-control so as to not abuse and misuse your talents against others. Basically, these are the lessons of life one must know to be able to achieve his goals and to live harmoniously with other people.”

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