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.
As expected, the bronze medal was a crazy fight. She scored on me, she picked up a few shidos, I scored on her and right before the end of the match I managed to secure a pin for the bronze medal win! I haven't won a medal at the Pan Ams in the last three years!! The USA picked up 6 bronze medals that day! And we all came back from semi-final loses!
Returning from Panama was also an adventure! My flight was delayed 6 hours in Panama City because our captain was sick and United had to fly a new Pilot in. So of course I missed my connection back home. When I arrived in USA I literally had 30 mins to get to my next flight, and of course passport control was packed! By the time I got out of customs and went on the air tran to a different terminal I was pretty sure that I missed my flight! I literally sprinted my way though the airport! When I made it to my seat I was dripping sweat!! I buckled in, settled back in my chair and felt extremely proud of myself. Just before we were about to take off, the plane turned around and the pilot made announcement and told us that they "timed out" for the day and it was illegal for them to fly the plane! I was so sad, literally my flight to Albany was a 30 minute flight from Newark! Now what?!?
Since we were so close, United decided to provide a bus to Albany! The drive takes about 2.5 hours! But of course the bus was late and I didn't arrive home until 3:00 in the MORNING! I arrived home on Monday, literally changed suitcases and did laundry and then took off to Lisbon, Portugal to meet my fiancé!
I am getting married in a few months in Lisbon and we had a lot of paperwork, meetings, food tasting and other wedding preparations! On top of that, I still managed to train.
I am now in Denmark for a few more days and then I am on to my next judo destination- Antalya, Turkey! There is a OTC attaining camp here and thanks to the USJA who funded my trip I am able to train here for a week before I compete at the Russia Grand Slam.
My life feels crazy, hectic and stressful at times. And I spend most of my time being passed around from airport to airport and at judo practice. Even though there is a lot of stress with what I do, I wouldn't want it any other way!