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Laotian Athletes

These are the stories of every day Laotian athletes and adventurers.

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Phayviboune "C-Lil" Silimoungkhoun (@tomizuka_ & @bboyclil ), also known as "Yé", is a professional B-Boy dancer. C-Lil started dancing at the age of 12 after seeing a couple of guys dancing in his neighborhood. At first, his parents weren’t supportive of his dream because they weren’t able to see the benefits of his career. Over time, he proved to his family that dance had the potential to open many doors for him and was able to regain their support. C-Lil was featured in a Hollywood movie for his dancing and he participated in many dance competitions. The moments that make him really proud is when he gets to represent Laos on the big stage because his ultimate goal is to make Laos known to the world. C-Lil’s job requires him to frequently travel from one place to another and currently travels around Vientiane, Bangkok, and Shanghai. Currently, his biggest obstacle is finding time to train since he is always on the road. C-Lil’s message to others is to always keep your head up and work hard.

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Christopher Southichack (@mcspicy101 ) , known to his friends as “McSpicy”, moved out of his hometown in Dallas, TX to Los Angeles, CA at the age of 18. For the past four years, Christopher has been involved in a new bodyweight workout called Calisthenics. In Greek, Calisthenics means "beauty of strength." Although he has been seeing a lot of new faces in this sport, it doesn't appear as though a lot of them are Laotian faces. Christopher hopes that Calisthenics spreads to the Laotian community but is concerned that people might find it too intimidating since it's a new sport. Currently, his proudest moment was speaking in front of 1,000 people at a sporting event. Christopher wants the younger generation to not live life based on what others say. He believes that life isn’t about competition, who makes the most money, or what career you're in. To him, life is about being who you are, being true to yourself, and being happy. Although life is challenging it shouldn't stop you from discovering the world.

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When Andre Soukhamthath (@andresoukmma ) was in his senior year of high school, he found out that he was going to be father. Even though he had a couple of soccer scholarship lined up for college, he had to put those dreams on hold to start working full time. One day, he was invited by his friend to attend a Mixed Martial Arts class. He figured he needed a way to stay in shape and took his friend up on his offer. Andre loved it and wanted to continue, but knew he couldn’t afford the classes. Andre decided to strike up a deal with the coach; Andre agreed to clean the facility each night in exchange for lessons. After his son was born, Andre and his wife learned that their baby was born with a rare genetic skin disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa. For 9 months, both Andre and his wife did everything they could to care for their baby up until he passed. After his passing, Andre continued to train to cope with the loss. Now Andre has been in the sport for 11 years and is known as the first Laotian UFC fighter. He is continually motivated by his family who have supported throughout his journey. His wife has been his manager for over 10 years and his father is his greatest motivator. Andre is slowly seeing more and more Laotians getting into this is sport and he is constantly inspired by them. A message Andre would like to send out to all the Lao-Youth "Huk Khun, Pang Khun" - Love each other, respect each other.

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Dimitri Kyttana Silalack is a professional kickboxer from France. At first, Dimitri didn’t even know if he wanted to start kickboxing because he thought the sport was too violent. Three years ago, after watching Buakaw religiously, he decided to give the sport a try and immediately fell in love. His family also wasn’t a fan of the sport but they quickly changed their minds after seeing how happy the sport made him. Dimitri doesn’t see a lot of Laotian people fighting professionally other than the MMA fighter, Andre Soukhamthath (@andresoukmma ). He is extremely proud of Andre representing Lao people in the ring and looks forward to training with him one day. The hardest part about kickboxing for Dimitri is the amount of training that it takes. Once he’s in the ring, everything that he’s trained so hard for is put to test in that one moment. What motivates him is his desire to improve and live life with as little regret as possible. Dimitri wants others to always keep believing in themselves and to stay motived no matter what anyone else says.

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Sometimes I wonder why I started this Instagram account and whether or not the stuff that I’m sharing is important. I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is yes. Always, yes. Even if it’s not important to anyone else, it’s important to me. For most of my life I’ve struggled to be proud of my accomplishments. Doing anything that didn’t involve school was always accompanied by a sense of guilt. A few years ago I couldn’t even imagine myself climbing rocks or running 13 miles. A few years ago I needed to see something like this. I needed to see that there were people like me following their hearts and doing what they loved. So I guess I am just trying to be/create what I needed when I was younger. Thank you so much for those of you who have shared your stories so far. You are all truly an inspiration. ❤️

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Robert Syrisack has been kickboxing for three years and rock climbing for two. His favorite thing about these two sports is that it challenges both him physically and mentally. Despite having asthma and being afraid of heights, Rob always gives 110% and faces every challenge head on. Since Rob has breathing issues, he spends a lot of time focusing and training on his cardiovascular endurance. To face his fear of heights, Rob specifically searches for routes that he’s afraid of and takes falls during lead climbs. His advice to others is to explore as much as possible and to do what you love no matter what anyone says. His proudest accomplishment is learning to believe and love himself no matter how a fight or a climb turns out.

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David Thammavongsa is a bike mechanic, a cycling enthusiast. He is originally from in Buffalo, NY and currently resides in Portland, OR. Since David really enjoys being a bike mechanic, the money is just a bonus. He has been cycling for over half of his life, but had his first biking experience when he was in high school, while he was going through his “independent” phase. Cycling is David’s main method of transportation and has always been such a huge part of David’s life that he never found it necessary to learn to drive. David supports bike culture because it is an easier way to travel, environmentally friendly and a whole lot cheaper! What keeps him going is the optimization it has on his life: financially, getting from A to B, and getting a workout. His proudest accomplishment has been running a free bike clinic on his college campus that was a positive and fulfilling experience for him. It reminds him of how much initiative and action he can take when he’s fueled by his sense of compassion and rewarded with the sense of accomplishment.

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Ko Chandetka is a professional bodybuilder from the midwest. He was born in Thailand in 1971 and moved to the United States at the age of 4. He remembers admiring the bodies of action heroes while growing up and wanting to look like them. What made him even more interested in bodybuilding was seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan and the Barbarian on the cover of Muscle magazine. He started training at the age of 12 and by the age of 19, he started participating in body building competitions. Ko’s biggest challenge was the lack of support he received from his parents, despite this obstacle, Ko pushed forward and made his dream of becoming a professional come true. Ko is currently the only Laotian bodybuilder in the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness (IFBB). Ko’s motivation has always been becoming a professional athlete. Now, his goals are to balance his personal and professional life to become the best parent he can be. His advice to others is to continue dreaming. He believes that no one, including your family, can take anything from you unless you give it to them.

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Holy Chounramany is the commissioner of a private multicultural basketball league organized by the city of Fresno. His team, Fresh Produce, was formed in 2008 and is made up of close friends and family. Since they started in 2008, Holy and his team have won approximately 12 leagues. Growing up, Holy lived in a neighborhood that was influenced by gangs. His family became supportive when he started participating in sports because they knew it would keep him off the streets and out of trouble. Holy’s involvement in the basketball team started in high school when his brother-in-law recruited him to compete in a local Asian basketball tournament. During that time, Kob Rattana, a Park Coordinator for Romain Park started creating the Asian basketball community in Fresno. Unfortunately, due to health issues, Kob was forced to retire early, and since then, Holy has been trying to preserve Asian basketball culture by picking up where he left off. Holy wants younger generations to have the same outlet and fun that he had growing up. He believes that participation in sports builds character, helps develop leadership skills, creates networking opportunities, and builds self-esteem.

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Kon Chittavong is a triathlete, body builder, and owner of Body by Kon, a Personal Training and Wellness Coaching business. Kon was very active growing up. At the age of 13, with Bruce Lee as his inspiration, joined Martial Arts. In 2005, after struggling to complete his first 5k, Kon discovered that looking fit and being fit were not the same. Determined to improve, he started running 3-4 times a week and researched health and fitness, with a focus of reducing his 5k time under 19 minutes. Kon completed his first triathlon in 2010 and has since completed 7 half ironman triathlons (1.3 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run), and one full ironman at Ironman Lake Tahoe in 2013 (2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike, 26.2 mi run). In 2014, Kon placed 5th in his first Men's Physique Competition and later placed 4th after entering the competition again in 2017. His goal is to win in the Masters Division in (over 35) Men's Physique and to qualify for Nationals.

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Soutsada Sipaseuth, also known as Sou, was always interested in sports growing up. Her parents, on the other hand, thought that non-academic activities were a waste of time and money. Although her siblings were not allowed to join organized sports, Sou found a way to participate in soccer, softball, track, and cross country. It was not until later in life when Sou discovered the sport of rock climbing. She remembers feeling a little out of place the first time that she stepped into a climbing gym. However, intimidation turned to determination, and she felt right at home in the gym after discovering the welcoming and friendly nature of the climbing community. What Sou enjoys the most about climbing is pushing herself mentally and physically to complete challenging climbs with which she used to struggle. Her greatest accomplishment in climbing to date is lead climbing outdoors in Yosemite. 📷: @kcteaguer

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Sisombath Mony Souvannasack, also known by friends as Money, is a ballet and modern dancer who was born and raised in Fresno, California. Money started dance at the age of 20 after his roommate recommended that he try ballet. After his first class, he was hooked. Money has been dancing for five years and it still brings him great joy. Money’s biggest hurdle is starting dance at such a late age but that doesn’t stop him from working towards his ultimate goal of one-day making dance his profession. In dance, Money is able to find himself and realize his self-worth. Dance is something he is extremely passionate about and he doesn’t plan on ever quitting. Money is currently raising the funds to participate in State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara. To learn more visit www.statestreetballet.com or to help make Money’s dream a reality, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/state-street-ballet-sum-intensive

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Growing up in a household with three brothers is what Teddy Sayachack believes made him competitive. For as long as he can remember, he has always been interested in sports but because his family was limited on funds, participating in sports was out of the question. Teddy remembers how he and his brothers would watch Thai boxing videos that their mom would pick up from the local “Laotian Block Buster” in Fresno, California, where he was born, raised, and currently resides. Another factor that contributed to Teddy’s interest in boxing and self-defense was the fact that he was constantly bullied growing up. As soon as Teddy got a job at 18 and received the funds he needed, he started kickboxing. Despite not having his parents support in the beginning, he continued to pursue his passion and train for another 13 years. As the years went on, his siblings started to become his biggest supporters and would attend his matches. To this day, Teddy’s proudest accomplishment is competing at the age of 18. Although he was nervous at first, when the match was over, he was glad that he did it. Teddy believes that combat sports really help him gain confidence with every aspect of his life. Teddy is now 31 and although he is still quite competitive, winning or losing isn’t as important to him anymore. What is important is that he stays active and enjoys his time training with his partners. Thank you Ashley Marie Photography for being super helpful and providing these awesome photos! #ashleymariephotography #laotian #laotianboxers #thaiboxing #selfdefense #martialarts #lao #laotianathletes #laoathletes #laoathletics #laoandproud #laofighter #laotianfighter #laoboxer #laotianathlete

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Angela Sipaseuth, a 25-year-old Laotian American, was born in Seattle but currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She has been involved in activities such as ice skating, rock climbing, dancing, swimming, running, and skiing. She became interested in athletics because she wanted to challenge herself and see what her body is capable of. Her proudest accomplishment to date is the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon that she spent almost half a year training for. What motivates her is her fear of stagnation. She believes that there is always room for improvement. From what she has seen, there aren’t a lot of Laotian people involved in athletics and when they are, they are mostly males interested in body building. Although Angela’s involvement in physical activities is out of the cultural “norm” her family has always understood and supported her adventurous spirit. #laotianclimbing #laotian #laotianrunner #laotianathletes #laotianclimber #spartanrace #diversity #lao #diversityinsports #laotiansinsports #laotianskater #iceskating #climbing #girlspartans #girlswhorun #girlswhoclimb #browngirlsrun #browngirlsclimb

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My name is Vanesa and I am the creator of Laotian Athletes. My goal with this page is to start a collection of stories from everyday Laotian Athletes and adventurers. I’d like this page to highlight Lao people who participate in physical activities and let people know that we are out there. If you do a simple Google search right now - you’ll find it VERY difficult to find us! Let’s change that. I’ll share more of my own story as time goes on but I’d like to hear about you. Tag your friends if you think they should get featured in this page! Let’s start the conversation on fitness in our community. Please use @laotianathletes to promote this page and also tons of hashtags regarding Laotians and sports! I’m stoked to start this adventure with you all! With love always - V #laotianathletes #laos #laotian #laotianrockclimber #laotianclimbing #laorunner #laoathlete #laotianinsports #climber #climbing

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