The Athlete: An Interview with Audrey Jiwajenie
A career in sport was something that was chosen freely and conducted diligently by Audrey Jiwajenie. She was a pro-swimmer athlete since the age of 8 years old, and have given our country many proud moments with her achievements. In this issue, we can learn from her experience of what it was like being a young athlete with all those tight schedules, strict training, and winner’s perks in the sports field. Check out our convo with her.
1. Hai Audrey, can you share us the story on how you get into sport in the first place?
At first, I had no intention nor aspiration of becoming a professional athlete. My dad enolled me to join a swimming course, and unexpectedly I was considered quite talented, compared to my other peers. So, my swimming coach recommended me to join the swimming club so that I can train more seriously. I got in the club, got trained intensively, and took part in several competitions since I was 8 years old. This routine went on until I was about 25 years old.
2. You start being an athlete at such a young age, how easy and difficult was it managing your time as a national athlete and as a youngster in Jakarta?
I was not very sociable as a youngster, I hardly had any social life. Everyday I spent 4-5 hours for my swimming practice (before and after school hours). So there was slim free time for me to hangout after school, like other kids. My spare time was only at weekends, where I have 1 full day on Sunday as free time.
3. Our August 2017 issue is about youth and independence. In regard to your personal experience, how do you define independence (and freedom) in your time being a young athlete?
I am lucky enough to have such supportive family. Since I was little, I have always been given the freedom to choose whatever I want to do. Although swimming was introduced by my dad, but pursuing a career in swimming was purely my own desire, and not at all forced by my parents. So, consequences of getting only a bit of free time, is my own demand. Whereas, I have other athlete friends who did not have the freedom that I had, they were forced to be athletes by their parents, and hence their freedom to play around and have some free time were taken away without their consent.
4. How much freedom did you have as a young athlete in Indonesia?
For me, I had the same freedom to be an athlete as well as equally manage my schooling in the midst of tight swimming schedules. But, some others tend to poorly manage their freedom, and that’s where potentials were often wasted by many athletes in Indonesia, imho.
5. You have given our city and country a great name locally and regionally, with the medals you received. Was there any support system to facilitate young athlete, then, to manage these achievements? And even, fallbacks?
Based on my experience, the government paid a well enough attention to us (young) athletes, for sure. So there were some support system in place. But, there was also an error of the system that give ways to the state to over-spoil (young) athletes with money. The money bonuses were excessively given to athletes, without financial management support. This resulted in young athletes to only think “the present” instead of “the future”. They were too lulled by the materials given during their wonder athlete years, but have no saving-scheme to the future planning of their livelihood. The state’s facilitation towards athletes have more focus on the output rather than having a much needed focus for the process. An instance on this can be seen through how the government paid little attention to the sports facilities that is provided, when compared to our neighboring countries (like: Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore). Another, is how little support the government give effort to ensure that (young) athletes have a decent and qualified education for the athlete’s future. So, basically if you don’t have other support system other than the state, you’ll most likely have a very tough outcome from being a young athlete.
6. Today, you are a working as a professional swimming tutor for the young. What do you do differently now than the times you had when you were a young athlete?
There are so many differences in the way today's teachings are compared to those that was applied to me. Facing an increasingly critical youth, I always try to find a way to make the exercises an interesting and fun activity. In addition, I always try to convince my student-athletes that education is a priority thing.
7. As we celebrate our 72nd years of independence and 18 years of celebrating the campaign to improve the situation of young people, what do you really want to see provided to youth in accordance matters on freedom?
I want young people to be given the freedom to discover their talents from an early age, to pursue their passion, without any sort of those“stupid/clever”stigma that is based only by the grades you received in school.
8. Do you have any suggestions for youngsters who want to get involved with sports?
To be an athlete, hobby alone is not enough, it takes passion, diligence and adequate talent. I have never found a great athlete who does not have those three aspects. Then find your talent, pursue your passion, and persevere in living it. Do not pursue something because you have to, because it will not take you anywhere. And most especially for any athlete-to-be: stay in school!