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  • Writer's pictureValeria Rodriguez

Game, Set, Match: A Synchronized Journey of Passion

There are seasonal athletes and then there are athletes for all seasons that have allow their sports to guide their life journey. If you are up for it, I want to share a serendipitous story of two friends and how their past and present haven interwoven in ways none of us can believe. The incredible accomplishments of these two friends have allowed them to transcend borders and the journey has left an undeniable mark on their hearts and the hearts of those around them.

The Winnipeg Pan-American Games of 1999 witnessed the convergence of two incredible women who not only carried their nation's flags but also ignited a spark that would fuel their athletic and personal journeys for years to come without them even knowing it. These two friends, representatives of their respective countries in synchronized swimming and tennis, showcased their dedication, strength, and passion on a global stage. As time has passed, these extraordinary athletes have evolved into fierce leaders within their offices, companies, and communities, exuding a radiant light that inspires all of us fortunate enough to cross their paths.

Though Winnipeg earned them even more respect and admiration of sports enthusiasts worldwide. Little did anyone know that their journey would lead them to one day be teammates, 20 years down the road as triathletes.

If you know me, you may have already figured out who I am talking about.

Yes..The synchronized swimmer is Maricarmen Saleta from Dominican Republic. She has continued to make waves long after her pool days. Transitioning her success from the water to the corporate world, Maricarmen's dedication and discipline were the cornerstones of her thriving career. She transformed challenges into opportunities, mirroring her synchronized routines where perfect coordination is paramount and always with an energy that is palpable. Maricarmen's journey extended beyond the office walls as she became a driving force in her community for kids with autism, the environment, athletes with different abilities, and most importantly using her platform to empower, uplift others and BRING JOY to anyone she meets.

Monica Poveda is the other friend who has blown me away tonight with the discovery of their chance encounter 20 years ago. She was a Bolivian tennis sensation, who has demonstrated that the lessons learned on the court extend far beyond forehands and backhands. From Player of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference to setting several records in the Federation Cup, including the highest total number of victories (29), individual wins (17), the second-highest total number of doubles wins (12), and the most number of years played (7)...all of that same focus and mental fortitude that propelled her to tennis greatness became the guiding principles in her endeavors since and as a professional. She hones in on her clients needs and knows exactly how to serve them , pun intended, the best options to see their portfolios succeed. Moni's resilience and commitment paved the way for her to become a trailblazer on the court and also for her family (as she has been an incredible inspiration to her sister who followed in her footsteps in her own impressive way). Moni is beacon of hope for those aspiring to break barriers. No matter how many times obstacles surface, her attitude towards confronting them is not a fair match. Just as she once conquered opponents across the net, Monica conquers obstacles in boardrooms as an investment portfolio manager, on race courses all around the world, and beyond.

The magic that Mari and Moni share doesn't reside solely in their athletic achievements or professional successes; it's their presence that truly sets them apart. When they enter a room, it's as if a beam of light accompanies them, filling the space with an energy that is contagious. Their passion burns bright, igniting conversations, inspiring action, and leaving an unforgettable imprint on everyone they encounter. These two women are more than friends; they are medicine for the soul, magic for the heart, and a beacon of light for all.

The Winnipeg Panamerican Games of 1999 marked the intersection of two exceptional journeys, and now Tres Pinas has been the stage where they are continuing to share their narrative of unwavering dedication, resolute strength, and boundless passion. Their legacy is one of inspiration, empowerment, and radiance. To have the privilege of knowing and calling them friends is an honor beyond measure. They remind us that the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to surround ourselves with individuals who embody medicine, magic, and light.

To Mari and Moni:

May you continue to carry the torch of light that you have switched out from the flags you carried 20 years ago. Thank you for illuminating the world with your extraordinary presence. Love you girls!

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