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.
Since Uzbekistan, I have been training in Germany. Which is my new stomping ground. I have never actually been homesick before this trip. When I go away for two- three weeks I always know that I am going to fly back to the US of A and pick up my car, drive home, and get kisses from my pug. Now my new home is in Leipzig, with no car, and no pug! I ride my bike to practice; I think this no car thing is helping me become mentally tougher! When you have to ride your bike at 7:30 in the morning in the cold, and in the rain- I would rather run out to my car in the cold and deal with a cold steering wheel for 2 seconds. I literally can not feel my hands once we get to the training center! However, on the plus side, I think my legs have gotten more muscular since I have been biking around the town! Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it here. The judo club is great! The city is beautiful, and of course, I get to see my lovely husband every day. However, the European way of life is different. I am a true American girl!
I like going through the drive- thru and picking up my coffee in the morning, I love all the small little conveniences that the States has to offer- Like SPACE!! We have so much room in the USA! All the stores are big and you never feel claustrophobic when you are trying to get milk out of the refrigerator at the supermarket. Another thing that I am not quite used to – everything is closed on Sundays! I used to work at Crackerbarrel on Sundays, so my Sundays were ruined because I had to serve pancakes to the folks of Clifton Park, New York. Here in Germany, the mall, stores and supermarket are all CLOSED! Restaurants are open, and I have seen cafés open- but other that Germans really value Sunday as their day of rest!
Now that I am finally accustomed to the German lifestyle, I am off to Japan for 3 weeks of training before I compete in the Tokyo Grand Slam! Gotta love Bouncing from one culture to the next!! Even though I have been traveling for quite some time, I am still so amazed on how different each country is! I am constantly learning new things about the world and about myself when I experience things out of my comfort zone. I think being out of my comfort zone has made me a stronger person, and an even better judoka!!!!