Long-lost friends find each other at YOG

Long-lost friends find each other at YOG

Once neighbours in Sembawang, Martina and Ava now doing their nations proud.

Several times during this Youth Olympic Games (YOG), someone had been knocking on the door of the Team Singapore apartment, hoping to see shooter Martina Lindsay Veloso.

Each time, 15-year-old Filipina gymnast Ava Lorein Verdeflor and her mother Lea were out of luck.

Martina, too, had tried asking a shooter representing the Philippines about Ava, her neighbour at the Seletaris condominium in Sembawang where both the Velosos and Verdeflors lived in 2002.

The two childhood friends, born just 10 months apart, finally met each other by chance on Friday, when both were in the Youth Olympic Village dining hall at the same time.

Neither remembered much of each other or their frequent playdates in the past.

But Martina and Ava soon got over the initial awkwardness, rekindling the bond they had shared 12 years ago just before the Verdeflor family moved to the United States.

"It was so weird at first because we both didn't remember anything as we were too young at that time," Martina told The Sunday Times.

The shooter's mother Loresa - after finding out that Ava would be at the YOG - had showed her an old photo of the two young girls just before Martina left Singapore for the Nanjing Games.

It was only then that the gymnast heard stories about how the two families had been close neighbours.

"Back then, there weren't many children at that condominium so they were close," said Loresa.

While the adults took to the tennis courts, the children played house on the sidelines.

She also has many fond memories of poolside dinners, when the two girls swam together. In fact, if one had to guess which sport the two girls would excel in, it would be something to do with water.

But much has changed in the last 12 years.

The Verdeflors moved to the US in 2002 and live in Texas where Ava honed her gymnastic skills. The family hold dual citizenship.

Added Loresa: "I kept in touch with Ava's mother after they moved but that's about it.

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