August 2, 2012

Keitani Graham To Compete In 2012 Olympic Games

By Nikolas Markantonatos
www.holycross.edu

Most of the world is glued to the TV watching the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, and the Holy Cross community has even more reason to tune in on Aug. 6 when Keitani Graham (Class of 2003) competes in wrestling. Here's everything you need to know about the 32-year-old.

1. Graham will be representing Micronesia and competing in the 84 kilograms/185 pounds Greco-Roman wrestling competition.
A four-state nation, the Federated State of Micronesia consists of 607 islands in the western Pacific Ocean near the Philippines. He hails from the state of Chuuk (the other FSM states are Yap, Pohnpei and Kosrae).

2. A lifelong fan and participant of sports, Graham has concentrated on wrestling since 2006. He strained his hamstrings several times as a member of the track and field team at Holy Cross, preventing him from competing properly in the sport after graduating. That's when his father, Clark Graham, who wrestled in high school, introduced him to wrestling. "He got me into it for some regional competitions within Micronesia and the Pacific and I found that I liked it and had a knack for it," says Graham.

3. He has been training in Hawaii for the past year with Jacob Clark and the Hi-Flyers Wrestling Club. Clark was a member of the U.S. World Team in 2006 and 2010. Graham has also trained under several noted wrestling coaches, including Korea's Young Ho Ko and USA's Dan Chandler.

4. Graham has taken part in every continental wrestling championship and world championship from 2007-2012, except in 2009 when he had anterior cruciate ligament replacement surgery.

5. A former member of the track and field team, he credits Holy Cross for his perseverance. "Holy Cross helped me immensely," he says. "Being on the track and field team and doing the decathlon gave me a great base of strength and endurance, and a high level of training and preparation. The fact that Holy Cross is such a good academic school didn't hurt either. I learned that if I didn't manage my time and discipline myself I would not be successful with my studies. This translates directly into my wrestling where discipline and time put in leads to better performances."

6. Jesuit ideals are apparent in his life's work. Graham is the executive director of Society for Historic Investigation and Preservation/Helping Ourselves: Outreach Programs in Sports (SHIP/HOOPS) in Chuuk. Together, the nonprofit corporation uses education, literacy activities and modern sports programs to teach and empower youth in Micronesia. "I am very proud of the programs we now have which include sports and anti-substance programs as well as educational and environmental programs," he says.

7. Following the Olympics, Graham will get back to his work at SHIP/HOOPS, and focus on improving the economically depressed Federated States of Micronesia. "We have a lot of things we need to improve in my home islands and I want to be a part of that," says Graham, who studied history at Holy Cross.

8. Graham learned about Holy Cross from several alumni. They were teaching at his Jesuit high school, Xavier High School in Chuuk, through Jesuit Volunteers International. "When I was looking at colleges I remembered Holy Cross and marked it as a school to apply to. Thankfully, I got in and I figured it would be an adventure to attend college as far away from home as possible."

9. A tradition of athletics runs in his father's side of the family. Clark's mother narrowly missed qualifying for the 1936 Berlin Olympics in track and field, and his stepfather is Lenny Kallis, the former longtime basketball and baseball coach at Augustana College.

10. Graham was raised in Micronesia. His father, a native of Illinois, first settled in Micronesia in 1966 as a member of the Peace Corps after graduating from college.