Aug. 4, 2016
The sport of wrestling has taken Florian Skilang Temengil to just about every corner of the world.
From growing up in Dallas, the son of immigrants from the tiny Republic of Palau in the western Caroline Islands, to becoming an NWCA All-American at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, to a gold medal at the 2016 Oceania Championships in New Zealand and bronze at the Africa Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Algeria — and even a week-long visit to Port Allegany in June for this year’s Bruno Iorfido Wrestling Camp.
Now, it’s brought ‘Flo’ from a training session in Korea to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, site of the 2016 Summer Games, where he’ll lead the Palauan delegation into the opening ceremony tomorrow night before stepping onto the mat for his opening-round 125kg freestyle match on Aug. 20.
“Palau’s such a small country, there’s not a lot of funding. We’re building a sport; I’m only the second generation of wrestlers there. So if I don’t go, no one goes from my country,” he said during his stint at ‘Camp Bruno.’
“We’re trying to build it. That’s what I’m here for. I feel like it’s kind of a little bigger than me. I have to stick with it, keep the next kids coming up. I think it’s gonna be a good thing, staying with it, especially for the island.”
Reached via Facebook on Monday afternoon, a few days after Team Palau landed in Brazil, he relayed that “it’s been a hassle getting wrestling partners, but I was able to do a little live wrestling today and blew my lungs out with the Cuban team. It’s going to be a buildup to my match. Every day, I’ll push it a little more and feel a little better.
“The food is okay, the rooms are kind of like dorms, the people are very nice, and the facilities are big. Lots of traffic here, but Rio looks better over on the village side.”
And you’d better believe Temengil is looking forward to the Parade of Nations during the opening ceremony at the fabled Estádio do Maracanã.
“I’ll be the one holding the flag for Palau,” he said. “And maybe I’ll be wearing a surprise outfit.”
The opening ceremony will be carried on NBC (tape-delayed) at 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 5.