The story of Kinaua Biribo

The Oceania Judo Union is pushing for gender equity in our continent to align with our value of inclusion. The athlete representation from Oceania countries is still very much male dominated. To increase female participation, we are pushing for more education on this topic.

Meet Kinaua Biribo from Kiribati.  She originally visited Japan for a training camp in preparation for the 2020 Asia Oceania Judo Championships (Olympic Qualifier) in Mongolia.  However, due to the pandemic, the tournament was been postponed and Kiribati has also closed its borders.

Biribo is still in Japan training with her sights set on representing Kiribati on the world stage and hopefully make it to the Olympic Games.

This is her story.

My name is Kinaua Biribo, I’m 27 years old, and I’m here in Japan attending training for the 2021 Olympics. I will be representing my country of Kiribati in the sport of judo.  Judo is a whole new world for me. Most in my country don’t know the sport, even though it is a worldwide sport. Being the only woman out of 50+ participants, and the first I-Kiribati to train at this level gives me great honour. 

Training is tough, which I expected, and every day is a learning opportunity. Most participants are very talented, knowledgeable, and experienced; whilst I am a beginner coming from a small island. Nonetheless, I am grateful and feel extremely fortunate for the opportunity. I admire the amount of energy and strength exhibited by everyone here; it gives me courage. The critiques and praises from others help cultivate my passion, and attention for the sport. This is a stepping stone towards my dream. 

I grew up in a society where men have the right to beat their wives. Discipline and domestic abuse go hand in hand. Women are seen as weaker and considered to be inferior. Because of this, men hold the right to dominate women. It is my dream to break this vicious cycle of brutal force against women and bring forth a spotlight on domestic violence, while proving to men that women are also strong and not just helpless victims. I see this opportunity as a chance to give hope and strength to my sisters struggling back home. This is my chance to remind them that being a woman is a blessing and not a curse. 

“Let’s grasp our dreams and let not our gender limit us from our goals because women are already strong; it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”  – G.D. Anderson.