It Was A Good Run
Last week was an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs. I had one of the best surprises of my life while I was in Helsinki when my wife showed up in my hotel lobby. I had just finished working out, and when I got to the hotel, Coach Fraser told me that he had something for me. I had no idea what he had for me. I thought maybe some extra perdiem, or a new bus or competition schedule, but really I wasn’t expecting much of anything. I followed him around the corner, and to my surprise, I saw my beautiful wife sitting in a chair in the lobby. I was in a state of shock when I saw her, and I couldn’t comprehend what it was that she was doing in Helsinki, Finland thousands of miles from where I saw her last. A couple of questions came to mind with the two biggest ones being: Where are the kids, and how did you manage to have money to pay for the trip? It took me a good fifteen minutes of being together before I understood that yes my wife was there and that she was staying for the competition. I was so happy and excited that she was there for me, a time when I really needed her to be there.
We had a great time together over the next few days. We went to downtown Helsinksi, and I showed her what Europe was like. It was her very first time out of the country, and I was so happy to share a little bit of what my life has been like on trips over the last decade. We even had an opportunity to go to the temple in Helsinki, Finland. It was a very positive experience. Things were perfect, and I was hoping that it would set the tone for a great performance on the weekend, but it didn’t go as I had planned.
I made weight relatively easily, and I felt well rested and prepared for the competition. I felt like it was my time to shine. I drew Balacs Kiss from Hungary the first round of the tournament. He was a world champion in 2009, but I had beaten him the last time that I wrestled him. I knew that it would be a tough match, but I was confident that I could beat him again. As the match started, we were both wrestling at a very intense pace, pushing and pulling and grappling for position. We both knew that we were in a dog fight for with our Olympic dreams on the line. He caught me with a quick arm throw that I did not see or feel coming until it was too late. I was down and I knew that I had to score. We battled on our feet for the rest of the period, and I attacked with a high dive and got in deep to his waist. I scored one point from securing the take down, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the three points that he earned from the one arm throw.
The second period was just as intense as the first one was with both of us battling hard for the score. I executed an arm drag and drove him to the edge of the mat, inches away from a push out and a score, but he maneuvered out of the danger zone. The match went to parterre position on the mat. The whistle blew and I secured my lock. I went for my gut wrench. My lock was tight and I had a good drive. At one point I felt his hips slightly lift, and I thought that I would have the turn secured. However, it didn’t work. I tried and tried again but with no success. Time ran out and my opponent was awarded a point for his defensive display. In an instant the Olympic dream that I had vividly carried with me for years was snuffed out. The bright candle of hope that I had nurtured and cared for for years was put out so quickly. It was like all of the sudden I was in a dark room and I all I could feel was pain. The pain of loss. The pain of getting so close to something and not obtaining it. The pain of failure. How could I make sense of getting so close to the Olympics for the third time in my wrestling career and not making that breakthrough? It hurt. It still hurts. It will probably always hurt to some degree. All I can hope is that God has something big in store for me.
Since the tournament, I have been able to reflect on my life and my wrestling career. I spent the last decade of my life sacrificing for my Olympic dream, but I was also rewarded in a great way even though I didn’t reach all of my goals in wrestling. I was able to earn a world medal, win a team world championship, win numerous pan american championships, as well as gain a ton of international wrestling experience. I have made some amazing friends and seen things that many people will never see in a life time. I have been blessed with the kindness of others who helped me along the way ranging from coaches, teammates, family, sponsors, and some people who are just fans of the sport and wanted me to succeed. My life has been made much fuller by the people who I have met through the sport of wrestling and I have learned lessons from wrestling that will translate well into any other endeavor to which I commit myself to in the future. I have had the privilege of traveling the world and seeing how a variety of cultures live, by the which I have been able to develop a greater appreciation and love for the United States. I was able to represent my country and my family. I had fun.
All in all, even though I didn’t accomplish all of the goals that I had set for myself, there is one thing that I know, can appreciate, and be proud of: It was a good run.