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Laotian Athletes

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

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Krysada Phounsiri ( @bboylancer ), also known as Bboy Lancer, is a bboy dancer who was born in Huay Xai, Laos, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 2, and was then raised in San Diego, California. Krysada has been dancing for 16 years. What keeps him motivated is the music, art, and cultural aspect of Breaking & Hip Hop. Although his family supports him, his younger Brother @eranetik has been his partner through this journey. His proudest moments are being part of the US in international competitions, connecting with the Lao Breaking Scene in Vientiane & Thakek, helping to push San Diego's Scene, and using his skills as a platform to bring people together for positive expression. The training, the trials, and the physical/emotional challenges are his biggest hurdles when it comes to dance. To him, dance is an act of vulnerability where you constantly get challenged to hold it down. Although dance is fulfilling, like anything else, you have to pay your dues and remain humble. His message to the Lao youth is to not be afraid to express yourself - dig deep, find what you love to create, and grind to make your passions a reality. And it doesn't matter what you do, bring that Lao flavor with you, always. Represent! Photos by (in order from L to R): @kienquanphotography, @roxrite95, @dr_wtpho @kevin_the_eel, @rahul.a.d, @peter.bxxiv

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Dolly Rossi (aka Rolla Boo Boo) is a mother, fitness instructor, and a Roller Derby player from Irvine, CA. Dolly started playing the sport in 2017 after coming across a roller derby event on Facebook. During that time, Dolly was looking for a sport that would challenge her/push her out of her comfort zone and roller derby definitely delivered. Currently, she plays for a derby team based out of L.A. called Angel City. Her number on the team is #33 - the age she started playing the sport. Dolly’s main motivation is to show her children that anyone can live an active lifestyle (even moms). She also feels like playing in a full contact sport makes her “the cool mom”. Her family (especially her kids) are her biggest supporters. Dolly believes that having the ability to pick yourself up when you fall is an accomplishment in itself. Her biggest challenge is mastering the balance between being a mom, working, and still making time to do the things she loves. Dolly actually gets a lot of criticism from others for being in this sport and has been told several times by others that she is a “bad mother.” Over time, Dolly has learned to block out the negativity and trust in her own judgement. The message that Dolly wants to send out is to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and don’t let others stop you from doing what makes you happy.

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Kham Souvannavong (@sabaideekk ) is a runner who was born in Vientiane, Laos and came to the U.S. when she was 10 months old. Kham didn’t start running until after becoming a mother. What motivates her to run is her desire to stay active and to inspire her children. Khams first race was the Women’s Nike half marathon in 2005 but it wasn’t until 2013 that she started running seriously. After running a few 5ks and 10ks, she decided to challenge herself by signing up for the 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon in San Diego. It was after this race that she fell in love with running. When she runs she is able to escape the noise of everyday life. In a way, running is her therapy and everytime she runs she feels refreshed, relaxed, rejuvenated, and at peace. On average, Kham runs anywhere from 30 to 33 miles. To date, Kham has completed 30 half marathons, 5 marathons, a 50k, dualthon, Spartan, and a Tough Mudder. Her biggest accomplishment was completing The 2017 North face Endurance Challenge Championship 50k in Marin California. Her goal now is to run a 50 mile race and to reach out to the Lao Community about running. Kham believes that everyone should give running a try and that anyone who runs is a runner (no matter how fast or how far they run).

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Sam Phimphachanh (@sxphimphachanh ) is a Chinese-Laotian badminton coach/player. Sam is originally from Fortsmith, Arkansas but grew up Silver Spring, Maryland. At the age of four, Sam and his brother were both given rackets by their father and started receiving training in the sport. Sam comes from a family that is very dedicated to the badminton. In fact, his biggest supporters are his family members in Laos who are gym owners/badminton players. To date, Sam has been playing badminton for the past 15 years. His proudest accomplishment has been playing with high level athletes in California. Currently, his biggest hurdle is finding time to go to the gym and finding people to play with. There aren’t a lot of people in his area who are into the sport and those who are, only play the sport recreationally. A message that Sam would like to send to others is, “No matter where you are always represent your country.” Although Laotian people make up a small portion of the Asian community, it is important that we come together and appreciate what we have accomplished. Sam wants others to remember, recognize, and respect the hard work that our grandparents, parents, and family have done to help us get to where we are today and to have the opportunities that we have.

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Vivake Khamsingsavath (@viveforlove ), also known as Vive, is a professional dancer. Vive started dancing when he was 19 after seeing Travis Wall on So You Think You Can Dance. Through dance, Vive views himself as a student, aspiring to improve everyday. In addition to dance he practices yoga, Qi Gong, swimming, and tries to stay active in many other challenging activities. Vive has had the honor to tour the country, perform and teach overseas, perform on prestigious venues (including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Radio City), perform on television and music video, and tour with artists. There is not one accomplishment he cherishes more than the other, but he believes that all of these beautiful moments affirms that hard work, kindness, and patience pays off. Vive’s biggest hurdle in dance is measuring himself to his former self. As someone gets older in this career, the way they see, feel, and perform dance changes. Vive makes sure that he continually allows himself to evolve out of his former shell but sometimes this gets hard because most people want to stay comfortable and stick with what they know. Vive’s message to others is to trust yourself. He believes that he is very fortunate that at a young age he was able to trust himself and believed in what he had to offer.

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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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