Another Valentines Day in the airport...

newyear1Looking back at the last 4 years of my life, and now thanks to Facebook it gives you the option to view your memories of previous years! Every Valentines Day I am usually competing or at the airport! I am happy to keep this tradition alive! So here I am in the airport in Rome, Italy. Alone (of course)

The athlete life can sometimes be a lonely one. Even though you are on this journey with your teammates, at the end of the day it is an individual sport, and all the work, pressure and mental preparation is really ALL ON YOU. What some people don't realize is how hard some athletes have it- especially the American ones. 

We are already the under dogs in the sport, we do not have a big team filled with Olympic and World level athletes, we do not have the funds and the government support like other countries. And if you are not on the top of the podiums every single weekend it's very unlikely that you will be funded by USA Judo. There is just no money in the sport, and the athletes ( like myself) are found setting up fundraising accounts and charging everything on our credit cards.

Judo is a tough sport and very unforgiving sport. You can travel 24 hours on an airplane for a 5 second match. Some people think I am crazy for staying in this sport without much support, I always tell everyone that this kind of thing "builds your character." 

When you have to work for what you want it really makes your success that much more meaningful.

I have been in Europe about 10 days now, I competed in the Paris Grand Slam and finally after competing in 6 Paris events I finally made it out of the first round. Winning this match in Paris gave me 60 points towards the Olympic Qualifications, and moved me up a few slots on the list. My next match was against the French favorite, Clarisse Agbegnou- it was a tough match and I ended up getting pinned and she ended up winning the whole competition.

After the competition I stayed in Paris for a 3 day training camp. This camp is one of the toughest training camps in the world, almost all the countries stay from the competition to participate- so basically you are doing 6-7 rounds with high quality judo players.

Every training camp always makes you a little bit tougher and you always learn something- this is one of the amazing things about judo. You are constantly learning and trying to advance to even a higher level.

newyear1After the camp I had a day off- so I had a chance to visit Disneyland Paris! It was a little cold outside but being about to be a kid for a day is always nice! I rode space mountain 3x!!

My next stop was the European Open in Rome, Italy. A lot of the athletes from Paris traveled to compete here as well, so this was going to be a tough competition. With that in mind I was fully prepared for a tough draw- and I felt confident and strong from the week of training. Unfortunately I was eliminated in the first round by penalties. (3-2) by a Russian girl who ended up taking 5th at the end of the day. 

It always sucks to sit in the airport the next day, empty handed and alone with your thoughts. 

Nobody told me this was going to be easy, this is why when I win my next medal it's going to be that much sweeter!!

I have 6 days until my next competition in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Happy <3 day!

-Hannah

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