Rower wins berth

Counselor in Primary presidency selected to be on Argentine Olympic rowing team

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A young woman from a family of rowers, Lucia Fernanda Palermo, 18, has been selected to compete in the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece as a rower in lightweight doubles, representing Argentina.

She is a counselor in the Primary presidency of the Pacheco Ward, Buenos Aires Argentina Litoral Stake.

Although hers has been a rowing family — two older brothers, Carlos Daniel and Angel Diego, rowed in national and international competitions — Lucia began intense training for the Olympics only a year and a half ago. Despite the short training time, she quickly progressed to where she was invited to attend pre-Olympic competition in El Salvador in May. There, she qualified for the Argentine team.

"So that she could do her homework, attend seminary daily and fulfill her callings, she made an agreement with her coach to practice daily during times that would not interfere with these obligations, which for her are priorities," said Litoral Argentina Stake President Andres Walker.

However, as the Games draw closer, her training becomes more intense. Her dream is to obtain a position among the 10 best and compete for a medal. She knows that she must compete with the best in the world, but her main desire is to do her very best.

Her bishop, Miguel Angel Vasta, said, "I have visited Lucia several times in her training, and I have seen the respect she has earned among her rowing team. All know her standards and beliefs, and for these, they respect her."

She said her teammates "always ask me questions. I know that seminary has helped me to know how to answer my friends."

As she prepares for the Olympics, this talented youth believes the strength of the family, and that the Primary, Young Women and seminary have helped her; she is sure of herself. "In these final days, my testimony of Jesus Christ is strong. I always had a testimony but now it is stronger. In my recent trip to the pre-Olympic competitions, I knew that it would be challenging. I knew that there would be no one from the Church to support me, and that the people around me would be very different. But at all times, I felt the guidance of the Lord and I felt Heavenly Father's love. I took my copy of the Book of Mormon. I read every day, said my prayers and I always felt His protection."

Beyond rowing, her dream is to gain an education to complement everything she has heard and done in the Church. She was baptized with her family in 1994 at 9 years of age. She has grown up in the Church, attending Primary and Young Women, and received the Young Womanhood Medallion. She also completed four years of seminary. She is an outgoing young woman who enjoys the friendship, sociability and talking with other young women.

In her family, her single mother supports five children, including one, Daniel Carlos, who is serving in the Chile Concepcion South Mission.

"Primary was a great help to me in my life," said Lucia. "I enjoyed it greatly as I took part in each event. I remember clearly the leaders and teachers, the preparation for the Primary sacrament meeting presentation. All this helped me greatly. I learned to speak of my feelings and share them. The Young Women program was also a great help. I discovered talents and abilities that I didn't know I had. I learned to develop myself better, to communicate with my friends and companions in the Church. This has been a strength in challenging moments of competition, and when I had to travel."

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