Trainer guides athlete in floor exercise

Kiki’s Story: Life As An Olympic Athletic Trainer in China

When we are given an opportunity, we are told to jump on it and that is exactly what brought me to China. My name is Kiki and I am an ambitious black, 26-year-old female from Orlando, Florida in the United States of America. My dream before moving to Beijing was to have an adventurous career jam-packed with travel while simultaneously coaching athletes to be the best they can be. The dream has manifested. I am living abroad as the athletic trainer for the Chinese National Olympic Women’s Weightlifting team.

My love of sports

Since I was small, I have always been a very active person. In high school, I was involved in over 10 clubs and sports combined but mainly focused on dance and track and field (4 x 100 meter relay and long jump). During my senior year of high school, I endured an injury that affected my performance causing me to throw away the idea of becoming a collegiate athlete but my love for sports prevailed. I decided to get into athletic training instead. Athletic training is an allied health profession focusing on orthopedic injury prevention, management and rehabilitation.

Why I left the US

After acquiring a master’s degree in May 2018 I initially tried to work as an athletic trainer in the performing arts, but I missed my chance. At that point, I felt stuck and that I messed up my whole life because I only had one plan in sight. I dreaded the idea of being yet another college graduate with tons of school loans and no job. This led me to think about the system in the United States, and how unhappy I truly was about the many issues (such as injustice in the black community) the US is experiencing and seems to turn a blind eye to. I was in a downward spiral of negative thoughts that immediately made me want to escape everything I had no control over. I started thinking about working as a traveling athletic trainer.

Finding the right opportunity in China

In my first search for jobs abroad, I stumbled upon 2 postings on a website called NATA.ORG (National Athletic Trainer’s Association) which caters to certified athletic trainers. The first posting was a job in China working with a physical therapy clinic and the second posting was seeking 100 certified athletic trainers to work in China with the Chinese Olympic Committee. Since I knew I wanted a traveling aspect within my job description, I applied for the Chinese Olympic Committee position. I was one out of 500 applicants to land a position. I couldn’t believe I was a chosen individual to work with elite athletes at such a young age! Surprisingly the application process was very simple and there was no standard interviewing process either. The Chinese Olympic Committee arranged for all documents and procedures to allow me to work for the organization. The interview process was a 3-month probationary period observing my work ethic and skills. Needless to say, I passed the test and am expected by the weightlifting association to resign my contract for another season with the team.

The Job

Working with the Chinese Olympic Committee has had it’s ups and downs, many times leaving me feeling confused, frustrated and contemplating my existence. We train 6 days a week and unlike other sports, weightlifting doesn’t really travel outside of China like I was expecting. However, I am working with the best weightlifting team in the world and I get to travel on my own when we have time off. Most of my days consist of exercise therapy and injury treatment for athletes. I use my phone as a translator, but recently have been applauded on the improvement of my Chinese speaking skills when I don’t use my phone. The athletes are caring and friendly with great personalities. Aside from administrative complications, the athletes are the reason why I continue to love what I do. This position has taught me valuable lessons and served as a reminder that no matter how elite an athlete may be, they will always value the care, time and effort I share with them. I am reminded that I am an asset to this team, regardless of how I may feel.

My best life in China

Since moving to China in May 2018, I have met so many people and done things I never thought I would. I truly live up to the YOLO slogan and honestly try to live my best life. I moved to China without knowing a soul here, but it hasn’t been an issue. I’ve pushed myself to venture out on my own often, exploring Beijing, other cities in China, and even other countries in the eastern hemisphere. I don’t wait to do things with others because I may miss out on an opportunity (you may haven’t gathered by now, I am an opportunist). By living my life this way, I have been able to make connections and networks all over the world while expanding my perception and cultural understanding.

Reflections

My journey working abroad as a certified athletic trainer is just the beginning. I understand that I am blessed with a great job and can develop my career while exploring my surroundings. Not many people get to have this opportunity, but I don’t think this should stop anyone from being optimistic and taking a chance when they see an open door. The world is so large and filled with many treasures. Jump at opportunity like you jump at conclusions. Whenever you get a chance, stick your tongue out and taste all the options around you (or at least the one that entices you the most).

How I THRIVE Outside of Work

Aside from my professional career realm, I am involved in other different societies and groups such as the Caribbean community, active/fitness community, Beijing volleyball league, and the dance community. Whenever time permits, you can find me out and about engaging with new people and most likely trying something new. Since moving to China, I have started a vlogging on YouTube to inspire, motivate, and even educate others on the perception of traveling and culture. I am also building a platform to start a traveling business. You can check out my YouTube channel at YouTube.com/kikibobo21 (subscribe!)

Connect with Kiki:

Makini “Kiki”

MS, ATC, PES, FMS, CEIS

Life Enthusiast

Youtube Channel: UniquelyKikz

Instagram: @UniquelyKikz

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