Iona teenager training to compete in Youth Winter Olympics

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

A Southwest Florida 15-year-old athlete with big dreams is trying to become the first female to represent Puerto Rico in luge at the 2024 Youth Winter Olympics in South Korea.

She’s back in Fort Myers after training around the world.

Isabela Aponte, 15, is an avid luger. And she’s quick to answer why luge is her sport.

“The speed. The adrenaline rush you get too,” Aponte said.

Aponte went to a beginner’s luge camp in Latvia in October 2022, just a few weeks after Hurricane Ian.

“I was home, and I was sitting there thinking about it, and it was like, I cannot not do this again,” Aponte said.

Luge gear. CREDIT: WINK News

Since then, she’s been putting in the hours training and competing worldwide. From places like South Korea, Germany, and Lake Placid in New York. Because she’s got a goal in mind to get to the 2024 Youth Olympics in South Korea.

“I’ve seen myself grow so much and so quickly as an athlete. And I’ve realized that goal is attainable,” Aponte said.

Aponte hopes she’ll be the first girl to represent Puerto Rico in luge at the Youth Olympics and bring that flag to the world stage.

“It goes really deep in my heart to be able to represent who I am, and my island and everyone is really special to me,” Aponte said.

Making it a reality means traveling for months at a time, leaving her family behind, taking classes online, and many other sacrifices. While it’s challenging, Aponte is dedicated beyond measure.

“When I have this love for the sport I have to make that sacrifice, and I understand that,” Aponte said.

“You’re competing against yourself. As long as you going to continue to make better every day and get better like that’s what life is about,” Luis Aponte, Isabela’s father, said.

“This sport is something that’s a big part of my life now,” Aponte said.

And it’s quickly becoming a major part of who she is too.

Aponte was born in Puerto Rico but has lived in Iona for the last 12 years. Luge season begins in October, and Luis told WINK News she plans to race in as many events as she can to get enough points to qualify for the Youth Olympics.

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