It has been four years since I stood on the World Tour podium! The last time I medaled in a Grand Prix event was in Abu Dhabi 2013! I had some close shots; I had a few 5th place finishes in 2014, a very close fight in 2015 in Qingdao for Bronze and another one last year in 2016 in Tashkent. I lost the bronze in golden score by One Shido! After getting married two weeks prior to this year’s competition, I had no real expectations for myself. I told myself that this was a training competition, and I was going to fight hard, give all of my effort and three fights later, I was in the final! A guaranteed medal! At this point, I did not want to settle for the silver, I wanted to go all the way in win the Gold! I have never won a Grand Prix Gold medal before, and on this day, I really believed I could do it. I was disappointed to get the silver medal in Tashkent this year, but also a bit relieved. I finally got on the podium, and in that moment when I was receiving my medal, it felt so good. However, you are filled with mixed emotions after ending the day with a loss, and the International Judo Federation loves playing highlights of the final while you are standing on the podium. It is a bittersweet feeling, holding the silver medal but watching yourself lose because you made a mistake.
I am a citizen of the world. When I sit back and think about my life, I shake my head in disbelief. I am a traveling nomad, traveling place to place. I am always on the road, different hotels, different city, the only thing that stays familiar is the feeling of the tatami mat underneath my feet. Judo, that will never change. No matter where I am in the world, judo is a constant in my life.
I spent this whole summer preparing for the World Championships. There is always the Olympic Dream, but there is also the dream to be World Champion. To be able to stand on top of the podium, and to say I am the best in the WORLD - is something that I will continue to strive for until I decide to stop doing judo. This summer I worked hard, not only physically but mentally. I did a lot of my world championship preparation in Germany and Israel!! It was a tough summer with strong training camps and I felt extremely focused and ready to have a great performance at my 4th World Championships.
Losing first round never feels good, it doesn’t matter if you lose to the worse person in the draw or the World Champion. I believe I am good enough to win, and when you don’t perform at your best. There is no worse feeling, than the feeling of disappointment lingering in the pit of your stomach. I didn’t cry after I lost, I remember I sat on the warm- up area in the back, mentally punching myself in the face for making mistakes.. I wish you could press rewind, that would be a great button to have in your life- BUT IT IS LIFE- and that is why we grow, and continue to strive and stay persistent even though it may seem hard. Being a judoka, and being a sportswoman is tough. It takes a strong person to keep getting back up, and to keep pursuing the journey, to work for the title that everyone wants. Some people reading this might think I sound crazy, they might not believe in me. But- I Believe. In. Me.. and that is the only important thing.
It has been two weeks since the Pan American Championships in Panama City, and my life has literally been non-stop since I left the country!
So let's rewind back and I will talk a little bit about the Pan Ams! My number one priority this year was to win GOLD at the Pan American Championships this year! Everything that I was doing with regards to training and competitions was all leading up to this! In the semi final match I lost in overtime to a young Brazilian who I previously met this year at the Paris Grand Slam. After that fight I remember sitting down on the side and feeling emotionally defeated! I pictured myself in the finals at the Pan Ams! Every Single run, lift and judo session I imagined myself fighting in the finals!
I also knew my bronze medal match would be tough. I would be facing Marciet Espinosa from Cuba. This fight was not going to be easy. I previously fought Espinosa for bronze at the China Grand Prix. I was losing the fight, until the last 18 seconds when I countered her, and pinned her- for some reason I let her up and didn't finish the fight and our fight had to go into golden score where I lost 2.5 minutes in. That fight in China haunted me for the last year or so because if I medaled in China I would have gotten the invite to compete in the Olympic Games. I made a stupid mistake and it really cost me!
I was one of the last fights during the final block. The Pan Am Team coach, Justin Flores turned and looked at me and was like, "you know this is going to be a brawl. Just give it your all!" At that moment I felt like he believed in me more than I did. 5 of my teammates before me all managed to win their bronze medal contests and I wanted to finish off the day on a positive note for Team USA.
I’ve been home from South America for a few weeks now. I have been trying to sit down and take the time to write an update blog on the trip but of course life gets in the way! I have been extremely busy with doctor appointments, training, work and my fiancé even came to visit for a few days. By the time, I open up my computer to write something, I am either distracted by Dancing With The Stars or Instagram!
So, it is APRIL! Spring is finally here! I was lucky enough to miss two snowstorms while I was in Argentina and Chile. I left for Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 8th. And I think I was tanning on the roof of my hotel while everyone back home was shoveling their driveways!
I had a pretty successful South American Tour. I did what I had to do, and I used these competitions as training to help prepare me for the big event, which is The Pan American Championships in Panama at the end of April. Last year I lost in the bronze medal contest, and ended up taking home a fifth. This result pretty much determined whether I was going to make the 2016 Olympic Team. I did not get the result that I needed to qualify, so the Pan American Championships leave a bitter taste in my mouth.
I arrived in Europe on February 2nd. I was very excited for this trip because it would be my first competition of the new season and I have not competed since October! My first competition was the Belgium Ladies Open in Arlon. I thought it would be a great competition to get some matches in and test out the new rules!
I won my first fight. I remember walking off the mat and telling Miguel, “Wow, my finger really hurts!” I held up my left index finger and he kind of just smirked at me. I didn´t think anything of it because it is just a finger. I have 9 others! So, I taped it up and continued to fight. I won my next fight, and then we had a small little break before the second part of the competition. My finger was starting to feel stiff and it was not bending, as it should. I started to warm up again to get ready for my next fight, and as I was grabbing the gi, I felt that something was wrong. I did not want to complain to anybody, so I ignored it and went on to fight my next match. Unfortunately, I did not win this fight.
Later that night, I took a shower, I looked down at my hand, and my entire finger was purple. I was thinking I must have really jammed my finger hard. My finger was swollen and it did not bend so I just iced it. I took a break from judo practice that following day because it did not seem to be getting better. I practiced the following night, with one hand. My fiancé Miguel, who is the coach at the club I work out at here in Denmark and the President of the club, convinced me to go to the hospital to get an x-ray.