LEILANI McGONAGLE AND THE ROAD TO OLYMPIC QUALIFYING
It’s not often in life where you can say a good friend has achieved their dreams and become an Olympian. Leilani is one of a few of our friends who in 2021 has overcome every hurdle like, Covid, restricted travel and fierce competition to qualify for her country Costa Rica.
We recently, we had a chat with Leilani in regards to the new structure of the CT and the challengers series but now, we are diving into something a bit more exciting.
We thought that seeing as the Olympics are starting really soon (in less than 24 hours now) we would reach out to Leilani to see how she was feeling going into the Olympic trials, the training she went through and how she feels now coming into the 2021 Olympic Games in Japan.
Hey Leilani, tell us about the ISA world games and the road leading up to it.
Basically leading up to ISA world games I figured that it was one of, if not, The most important event of my whole entire life. So I decided to dedicate two months and basically moved to El Salvador for that time before the event. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about myself and I feel like I really grew as a surfer and person.
How did you feel that moment you realised you had qualified for the Costa Rican Olympic team?
I really was overwhelmed by a lot of different types of emotions. Basically the only thing I can do is cry. It just felt like all the hard work I had put in for many years I’ve gotten recognized.
With the Olympics starting tomorrow for surfing, what is your journey like from today until the start date (ie; travel, training, equipment etc)?
Currently I am in Japan and it’s pretty crazy here. I’m staying at the village with literally every amazing athlete you could possibly imagine. I’ve never really been in a situation like that. The travel was long and jet lag is definitely there. But we are training at the venue and it’s a pretty cool vibe. My equipment is amazing!
Will you be able to attend the opening ceremony and if so how excited are you to be there for that?
I do have the honor of being able to attend the ceremony. I’m so excited because I got to walk alongside amazing athletes from my country and I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud to do anything in my whole entire life.
How has becoming an Olympian affected your life and profile in Costa Rica and globally?
I think it has definitely changed the way some people see me. I had people comment to me a lot that they have never been this close to an Olympian before. People stop me when I’m wearing my uniform and are intrigued by what I do. So you gain this sort of respect and accreditation for everything you’ve done.
We are really looking forward to seeing everyone competing in the Olympic Games and cannot wait to see how Leilani goes, she rips and works hard so a medal is on the cards for Costa Rica!