Meet the Athlete: Amanda Ciani Berlingeri

All images courtesy of Huella Deportiva.

As the Intercollegiate Games (a.k.a "Las Justas") come to a close this Saturday after a season of athletic triumph, for many of us, the best is yet to come. The athletics competition is one of the most headlined events of the games. It attracts huge crowds from all participating universities, making it a truly fierce competition. This year, Colegio has an admirable representation in the Track and Field part of this event so we sat down with one of its members to chat about the upcoming battle for the win.

Amanda Nichole Ciani Berlingeri, 23, is an English major. Originally from Carrolton, Texas, Amanda grew up in Kentucky and Ohio. A fierce athlete, and a self-declared hopeless romantic, Amanda embodies a geeky competitor. She's also been the president of the Track and Field Association for the past two years.

Tell me a bit about yourself Amanda, what's your favorite food, music, book, place...

I love mofongo! My favorite restaurant is Chipotle, but sadly, we do not have it here in Puerto Rico. I honestly enjoy all kinds of music, but when it comes time to get ready to compete, I usually listen to EDM or punk rock music, mainly Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, My Chemical Romance, so on and so forth… My all-time favorite fruit is the pineapple! I love being at the beach or in the mountains. I also snowboard so when winter comes around; I love being on a fresh pile of snow, but at the same time, I love being at the beach and enjoying the sound of the ocean and the heat. I am a hopeless romantic, so any book that has a good storyline with twisted love stories works for me. That goes for anime and movies as well.

How long have you been an athlete?

I have been an athlete basically all my life and I cannot believe this is my last year as a collegiate athlete.

How did you come to represent UPRM as an athlete?

I was running in the USATF Junior Olympic Regionals while my parents were visiting the island. My cousins ran for a club team in Carolina so my uncle and my mom got a hold of Nilsa Paris, the secretary and coach of the track team here at Colegio, who later encouraged me to come down here to meet the team and the coaches. After that, I ended up getting accepted to Colegio and to run as a part of the track team.

Amanda competing in 2016.

What event will you be competing in this year?

I will be running the 400 meter hurdles and the 100 meter hurdle events.

Did you practice any sports before coming to UPRM?

I was a dancer for almost 14 years and became the national dance champion in 2010. I was also part of my high school cheerleading team which had won the conference and state championship. I have also been a gymnast and soccer player.  

Take us through your training, how often do you train and for how long?

We train five days a week starting from around 5 o’clock until about 7-7:30. In the off-season we have Saturday practices as well and unlike other sports, we train and compete all year round.

What steps do you need to achieve to participate of the Intercollegiate Games?

All athletes must pass at least 12 credits per semester and maintain good grades throughout every semester. We only get four years where we can compete, so we have to be able to stay healthy and injury free as long as possible.

How long have you been participating in las Justas?

This will be my fifth year as a part of the team, but my fourth and last year competing in Justas.

How does it feel to represent Colegio?

It makes me proud to represent my university. It is an incredible opportunity to show what talents the university has, and I feel honored to be able wear our university's green and white [colors].

What are your goals for this last year in las Justas?

I hope to be able to achieve a personal record in both of the events I'll be running and to finish my collegiate athletic career on a high note! A medal would be nice as well, but one step at a time. I have always believed that in the track you might be running against other people, but the biggest competition is within oneself. If I can beat what I have already done, then, in my book, I did my job and I did it well.

What do you think of Colegio's performance in past Justas, and how do you think we'll do this year?

We have always been a decent team. Yes, we lack people competing in all events, but those who are competing are very good competitors, and will put up a fight until the end. In past years, there have always been things to improve on and this year is just the same, but I believe we are coming in with a strong presence this year and will make our university proud.

Any words of encouragement for these last few days of competitions?

It has been a long and hard road to get to where all the athletes are now, but it has been and will be worth it in the end. We have trained for this and prepared for this, now it's time to go out there and trust ourselves, our coaches, and our training so we can achieve greatness. There is no one holding us back but ourselves, so we all have to go out there and give it our all! Good luck to everyone! Go Bulldogs!

So there you have it, if you are a fan of the sport or if you genuinely just want to have a great time, go out there and support our team these last few days of Justas. Be proud of that green and white! Go Bulldogs!