At 21-years-old, Claudia Rivero is Peru's top-ranked badminton player and on her way to her first Olympic Games this summer. She will be blogging regularly for CNN.com on her build-up to the biggest event of her life.
(CNN) -- May 19, 2008
The last two tournaments of the Olympic year in Peru and Miami were unbelievable experiences for me - I won both tournaments.
On the way to victory at the Peru International tournament.
I had won the Peru International, part of the Future Series, last year, but it was still very important for me to win because its my home and I knew everybody was watching me.
I felt under a lot of pressure because I had been training in the world training center in Germany and I also had an Olympic scholarship, so I felt I had to make it really a good performance. Also as it's the end of the Olympic year, I needed the points.
The first rounds were OK but in the semi-finals I had to play against a Spanish girl; it was a very hard match and we played for around an hour. My father, who is my biggest admirer, brought all of my family to watch - I was really nervous, I felt sick to my stomach.
I lost the first set making unbelievable mistakes that I never normally would do. Somehow my hand and body were too tense to play and to move I had no exclusivity , it was a disaster. But then before going to the second set I told myself I had to do my best, it didn't matter if I won or lost. Suddenly I was more relaxed and things started to get better and I won the last two sets, what a relief!
In the final I played against another Spanish girl who beat an Australian in the other semi-final, but in this match I was on fire! I was very motivated and won in two straight sets.
It felt unbelievable to win a tournament especially this year because the players are stronger and tournaments are tougher now that everybody needs points for the Olympics.
My family and friends were very happy for me and invited me to go and celebrate, but not until the week afterwards. The following week I had another tournament in Miami. Sometimes being responsible is a little bit boring, ha ha.
Then I flew to Miami with some of my team mates form Peru. Those are the tournaments I really like to go; traveling with my friends we joke all the time on the airplane. Most of the time I fly alone and it is so boring because Peru is so far from everything, especially from Germany where I practice.
I always like the Miami tournament because the weather is amazing, the hotel, the people, and the shopping!
I won the tournament but here I played the final against my doubles partner. We had both reached the finals by beating Australians in the semis. It was funny because we played the doubles final first, but neither of us could concentrate in that match, we were thinking about the final that was later.
So in the end we lost our doubles match, but at least I won the singles.
I like to play tournaments in America because I know all the players and we are close friends. Sometimes to save money they stay in my house or I stay in theirs if the tournaments are in their countries... yup, badminton players don't earn as much money as tennis players!
So after my win we went out that night to celebrate because winning these two tournaments I am almost sure to be in the Olympics! I don't think I will really believe it until I am in the stadium in Beijing with my Peruvian track suit on -- it's going to be the biggest experience of my life!
Well, now I am going back home to Peru for two, well deserved, weeks of vacation. Kestus (my boyfriend) is coming with me, so I am sure we will have a good time.
Well I hope you enjoyed my blog!
Thanks for reading, Claudia.
April 29, 2008
I'm very excited to be writing my first blog!
From Lima to Beijing: Badminton player Claudia Rivero will be blogging up to the biggest event of her life.
Well, I come from Lima, the capital of Peru and for the last two years I have been living in Saarbrucken, Germany, to try to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
I have an Olympic Solidarity scholarship that gives me money monthly so I can pay my expenses in Germany and the tournaments I need to play during the Olympic year. Without it I don't think I would ever have been able to go to Olympics.
Peru, as you maybe know, is not the world's best country for sports. (In fact, so far we only have nine athletes definitely on their way to Beijing!).
So I had to decide that if I wanted to go to the Olympics I had to make my preparation somewhere else.
That's when I found out that the Badminton World Federation was starting a training center in Germany for players from countries that are less developed in badminton.
There was a two months qualification process to see which players stayed, (because, of course, a lot of people wanted the chance to practice in Germany) and thankfully I made it.
Moving to Germany two years ago was very hard for me especially because I had to quit my course in business studies and I had to leave my family -- my father, sister and dog (I love dogs!).
I had to start a new life in a different continent but with time I learned to adjust to the German rules, way of life, and sausages (ha ha).
It helped me a lot that there were 19 other players that also moved here to try to qualify. So I've made some good friends with the same interest as me and now I even have a boyfriend! My dad almost got a heart attack when he found out that he was from Lithuania, but he is always supportive in everything I do; so he invited Kestus (my boyfriend) to come to Peru for vacation.
I started playing badminton when I was 10 years old and come from a sporting family -- my father and sister were both very good swimming. I swam a lot too, but one day tried badminton with my sister. At first she used to win, but soon I won more often than she did. In fact there have been many times when we had to compete in competitions against each other in national championships or to win a place in a tournament.
I own everything in my career to my father because he was the one who was pushing and encouraging me to do my best. He made a lot of sacrifices to always take me to practice and pay for my entry into tournaments.
Well , right now I am very nervous because, in terms of qualifying, the Olympic year is almost over and the list of the players who are qualified is about to come out. Even though I am pretty sure of qualifying I still feel a little bit exited and nervous.
After the last tournament in the build up to the Olympics is over I will take a two week break. Kestus is coming to Peru to spend holidays with me before the practices starts again in Germany for us to be in our best shape for the Olympics.
Well, in my next blog I will tell you how I did in my last tournaments (and about my vacation in Peru).
Thanks for reading!