Noah: Hello! Welcome to USADSF Spotlight with Noah, I am Noah Valencia. Today we will interview an athlete, her name is Ria Balwalli who was the only athlete who went to the World Deaf Badminton Championships, representing USADSF. She was only 15 years old at that time, now at the age of 16. She is very enthusiastic about getting ready for our upcoming Summer Deaflympics! Now we are going to ask her some questions to find out more about her journey.
Image: Ria, outside of the gymnasium at the World Deaf Badminton Championships at Taipei, 2019.
Noah: Ria, you went to the World Deaf Badminton Championships at Taipei, recently. You were the only athlete representing USADSF, how did that feel, going through this experience?
Ria: The experience was AMAZING, because I was the only lone representative for USADSF. Wow, an amazing experience for me.
It was my first time participating in an international tournament. It was such an interesting experience meeting different players from different countries. It was also so nice to go sightseeing and learn about their culture. It was really amazing!
Noah: I do understand, actually I went to Taipei for the World Deaf Basketball Championships in 2015. I agree with you, it was such a beautiful cultural experience. I thoroughly enjoyed myself there so I know how that feels!
Image: Ria and Coach/Father, Krishna
Noah: We really look forward to having you represent USADSF at our upcoming 2021 Summer Deaflympics. What has your training for the Deaflympics been like?
Ria: My training, what I have been doing, is that your question?
Noah: Yes, your training, what is that like for you?
Ria: Okay, my training, what I do, I run three times a week in the morning, that would be to improve my speed, to help with my speed/footwork on the badminton court. I do physical exercises too in between my running schedule, such as jumping ropes; weightlifting; doing pushups, crunches and using battle ropes. That would be my training program. I also play badminton almost every day too. I play with two coaches, one is my regular coach, Henry Ranardo and another coach, who happens to be my father, so I train with both on the badminton court.
Noah: You mention that your dad is also your coach, a badminton player, right? How do you balance the dynamics of your dad being your dad as well as your coach? How do you feel about that?
Ria: Yes, my dad being my dad and a coach at the same time, I try to divide him in his two roles, for example, when we play badminton, we stay focused with him as my coach and myself as an athlete, and then as a father and a daughter role, outside of the badminton court
Noah: Ha, I share a similar experience as you. My dad is also my coach, it can be a little bit tough that I have to deal with his expectations, right?
Ria. Ha, Yes.
Noah: We have many athletes who do not sign, can you share with us, based on your experiences on how you communicate with athletes who sign, breaking down communication barriers.
Ria: Okay, when I meet a person/an athlete who signs only, actually I am still learning signs, just a little. I can sign, “my name is”, and fingerspell. I am not fluent in ASL yet, I try, but I also use my phone, using the notepad app to communicate in text. We continue our conversation. Also, some of them do speak well and sign fluently, so I can communicate with them one to one so it works out both ways.
Noah: True, a very interesting experience for you, right? A learning experience. I trust that you will continue to pick up signs in time.
I look forward to meeting you at the 2021 Summer Deaflympics in Brazil .
Image: Ria competing in singles.
Noah: We at the USADSF want to thank Ria for her time interviewing with us today. Until then, so long.