Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A chat with Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski

Rick: Hi, Mikee. What made you decide to get into your sport -- riding?

Mikee: Some of my older cousins were taking riding lessons. Since I wanted to be “in”, I thought I should do the same. I was eight then, and my parents refused. But I was persistent, and two years later, I finally got my way!

Rick: Did your parents influence you in any way?

Mikee: I guess so, because my Dad had racehorses. He would take us to the races or have us meet him at the training stables on our way back to Tarlac. You could say I was exposed to them, though I didn’t have much interest at all. Maybe that made me very comfortable with them.

Rick: Why riding and not another sport?

Mikee: I still ask myself the same thing almost everyday!

Rick: What is your most memorable game/match, tournament, and win?

Mikee: I have a few. But the most memorable, of course, is the Showjumping event at the Busan Asian Games in 2002. Others would be the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games and the 1996 Chiang-Mai SEA Games (because of the stress…just ask Toni Leviste!!), the 1996 Pacific League World Cup Qualifier Finals (because I tied for third with my coach who ended up winning the whole series after that third place finish), the 1997 Brisbane Royal Grand Prix (because it was my first clear round in a top level Grand Prix) and the 1999 Sydney Royal Grand Prix and Olympic Qualifier where I finished equal third, jumping Olympic height, earning a Certificate of Qualification for the Sydney Games (unfortunately, I needed two to actually qualify, but didn’t get the second one).

Rick: What made your triumphs most satisfying?

Mikee: The feeling of triumph in victory as well as loss because of the lessons I learned through them, the result of working and giving so much of myself to attain that specific goal (whether or not I got it), how much I challenged myself and overcame physical, mental, psychological and spiritual issues, appreciation from my countrymen, and more than anything, if I was able to come out of those experiences as a better athlete and person and sharing this with my family and loved ones.

Rick: What is it like to represent your country in international competition?

Mikee: I have always been a proud Filipino. Wearing the Philippine flag on my chest has always been an honor, and a source of encouragement and inspiration.

Rick: How much preparation do you put into riding?

Mikee: Always in duplicate. Whatever it is we need to do as riders to keep ourselves in optimum shape for competition, we must do for and with our horses. Especially when we are competing overseas with our horses, we monitor them 24-7. And even now that I would consider myself semi-retired (well, compared to how much time and attention I spent on my sport before), I ride about 5 times a week. Any pre-game or pre-match rituals as well? I pray. I also like to be dressed early for my event so I don’t have to think about it later on. My warm-up for each horse is also pretty routine on competition days.

Rick: So how would you like to be remembered in Philippine sports history?

Mikee: What I would like is not necessarily to be remembered in a certain way, but rather, if people would remember me at all and suddenly think of me, that they would feel a sense of national pride, a certain closeness to God and have the desire and confidence to continue to aspire to better themselves, their lives, and to share this with those around them so that they may do the same. It doesn’t even matter to me if they don’t realize that the feeling and idea started because they remembered or thought of me. As long as it helps, even in a little way, to make someone’s day better and hopefully, eventually, make this world a better place to live in. Pay it forward.

Rick: Any athletes you look up to? Any particular reason why?

Mikee: Many. Where do I begin? Some are: Michael Jordan (he was effective, shone without trying and was a team player in spite of his fame), Tiger Woods (he has always been an amazing athlete who I’m glad to see is human and has had his own share of defeat but was able to pull himself out of his losing streak), Annika Sorenstam (so consistent!), Vicki Roycroft (my coach – it’s amazing to see such a tough competitor who is so committed to the sport have to deal with every single detail related to it as well as day to day life, yet be so focused in the ring)

Rick: Do you have any sports idols?

Mikee: Well…not exactly idols. Lydia de Vega, Elma Muros, Bea Lucero, Rocky (well, hehe, the idea of him anyway!), Greg Louganis, Kathy Kusner, Joe Fargis (both equestrian), etc.

Rick: Ayt! Thanks, Mikee.

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