Rona Lazo – our celebrated gold medallist!
Rona works full-time with the ACT Office for Disability and recently won gold, silver and bronze representing the ACT at the Australian Deaf Games.
In January Rona represented the ACT at the Deaf Games, a competition that was held in Albury-Wodonga, hosting more than 1000 competitors from all over Australia and some international teams, playing 20 different sports. The games motto is Passion and Wellbeing Through Sport, and from Rona’s experience this is exactly what the games encourage.
She played as part of a pair in the women’s beach volleyball to win a gold medal against a very strong Victorian team, as part of a mixed touch football team to take home a bronze medal, and (in a twist of fate) she filled in with a an international team from New Zealand to receive a silver medal in in-door soccer (futsal).
Although Rona as asked us to forgive her ‘treachery’ in playing for a New Zealand team (who were down a player) we are all exceedingly proud of her achievements and the example she sets through her dedication to sport.
When asked what sport means to her she said, “Sport is really important to me. It helps me keep balance in my life and works as a stress relief for me. It has introduced me to so many different people from different backgrounds, people who have become friends. After this recent deaf games I had ‘hundreds’ of friend requests on Facebook.
Rona grew up in the Philippines where as a small child she had an accident, falling off a wall and hitting her head. As a result she lost her hearing. English was not her first language and she had to learn to sign in Filipino and then American Sign Language, and then Australian Sign Language. None of this has held her back, as her recent sporting success has shown.
“When I was little I was really scared to be involved in things. But then I built up the confidence to take a little step to play sport, and then another step, and another step to guide me to what my future will be.
“I want to show the deaf community that we can do things, that they can get involved in sport and that this not only helps you get involved in the deaf community, but the broader community too.
“The deaf community is very friendly, but then when we compete in sport we put our ‘game faces’ on, haha, and afterwards we love to celebrate and party!”
Rona and her team mate Aisha won a gold medal in beach volleyball in very tough conditions.
“When we went out there it was 43 degree and we were sweating so much. We were playing a very strong Victorian team. But because of our great team work and the confidence we had in all our hard training and great coaching from the ACTDragons Volleyball Club coach Greg Ophel, we believed we could win. We fought really hard, in tough conditions and all our hard work paid off.”
If you have hearing impairment and would like to learn more about the Deaf Games and being involved in sport in the ACT go to https://deafact.org.au/ If you have a disability and would like to play sport to develop confidence and skills, make friends, and challenge yourself please go to the Connect And Participate Expo to learn more.