Young Luisa overcomes odds to net taekwondo silver for Timor Leste
After two bronze medals, young Luisa's got a silver and she wants more for Timor Leste
Hers is a young nation which hardly causes a ripple in the medal stakes at the South-east Asia Games.
Luisa dos Santos Rosa, though, is kicking, pulling and fighting for her country, Timor Leste.
Along with countryman Henrique Martins Borges Pereira, they are the only two athletes to have won medals for Timor Leste at this SEA Games - Luisa with a silver medal in taekwondo and Borges Pereira finishing with a bronze in men's welterweight boxing.
Speak to them and one realises they are still fighting for acceptance among their fellow athletes at the Games.
In an interview with The New Paper yesterday, Luisa said: "At every competition I enter, my opponents know I'm not as experienced as they are because I come from a small country like Timor Leste.
"I've even seen some athletes giggling to themselves when they look at me. I get very self-conscious and wonder if they're laughing at me.
"During the competition here, the same thing happened again.
"I try to be patient and accept this is how it's supposed to be for me, and just do my best."
Luisa's talent and grit have seen her bag three consecutive medals at the SEA Games - bronze in Indonesia in 2011, another bronze in Myanmar in 2013 and now silver.
She was good enough to reach the quarter-finals in last year's Asian Games in Incheon.
She came up short of a dream gold here after she was beaten by Thailand's Chanatip Sonkham in the women's Under-49kg final last Saturday.
The 22-year-old Timorese did not drop a point en route to the final, thrashing Cambodia's Chantheary Chem (15-0) and Singapore's Nur Fadzlyn Mohd Zahruddin (13-0), but was well beaten by Chanatip 22-9 in the final.
That was hardly a disgrace, considering the Thai is the reigning world and Asian Games champion, and bronze medallist in the flyweight event at the 2012 London Olympics.
Said Luisa: "During my fight, the Thai athlete's experience showed because her kicks were more powerful, her technique was better, and she was smarter than me.
"She was so much better.
"Of course I'm sad because I lost the gold, but it's been a good exposure for me going against such experienced athletes from Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand. I'm going home to train even harder now."
Her South Korean coach Lee Jaeoh, 32, believes his protege can reach the top of the podium.
Lauding her spirit, he said: "I first met Luisa two and a half years ago, and she has improved so much that she is a completely different kind of athlete now.
"Her technique, her physique, everything is different.
"But training is always difficult because the facilities and equipment are not enough, and she isn't getting enough nutrition from her diet."
Lee, who has trained athletes from Laos, India and the US, accepts that he has to do his best with what he has.
"Other foreign coaches have the full financial support of their government, but it's different for Timor Leste because the economy is not yet stable," he said.
"I know the funding given by the government is not enough, so I've even called my old contacts from South Korea to see if they can help to supply equipment, and also get additional funding from the World Taekwondo Federation.
"I will pay for training and equipment first, and get paid back by the federation.
"I am not training the Timorese because of the salary; my personal goal is to see them improve enough to win a gold medal."
Luisa, who turns 23 on Friday, flew back to Timor Leste last night and will be in her dojang training today.
Before she left yesterday, she said: "Before this, in every competition I was always scared of failing more than my opponent because I wasn't so confident in myself.
"But now, with this silver, I am no longer afraid.
"One day I am going to win a gold medal and make my country proud."