It literally is the final countdown. Most of us have worked our whole lives to get here. As an elite athlete, it takes 200% dedication. Training to be the best in the world is no joke. It’s hard work. You wake up every morning with a purpose, there is always something that needs to be done to make you better- to make you the best. That Is what makes me so motivated.
I was in Europe, getting ready to compete at a very important Olympic Qualifying competition. I was supposed to head to the Dusseldorf Grand Prix- but a few weeks before at a Training Camp in Paris, I felt a little pain in my knee, and ever since then it did not feel quite right. I was walking around trying to shake it off. My knee felt so unstable, but I tried to ignore it. A few practices before leaving for the Dusseldorf Grand Prix – 40 seconds into the practice I had to stop. In that moment- I knew something was wrong and it had to be fixed immediately.
I flew to Miami a few days later, got an MRI and had surgery the next day. I was so lucky to get in so fast, considering that there really is not much time until the Olympic Qualification period is over. (It ends May 31st) Dr. Steven Swirsky- is the doctor for USA judo and also for the International Judo Federation so he knew how important it was to get back on my feet as quickly as possible.
Thanks to my friends 2012 Olympian, Nick Delpopolo and my old teammate Carrie Chandler I was able to spend a week in Florida after my surgery. It was nice to be around people that were helpful and supportive and it was nice doing some PT out in the sun. I would walk to the pool (with my crutches) and do knee extensions and other exercises while I got some sun. Dr. Swirsky told me that I had to get to work right away on strengthening my knee and that is exactly what I did. It was a little painful, but well worth it. When I went to see him a week after Post-op to remove my stiches he said I was way ahead of schedule- and that is exactly what I needed to hear.
I had a lot of time these last few weeks to really focus on recovering. I would wake up and do my physical therapy, go to the gym and lift- and follow my lifting program. Refuel, rest, and go to judo training at night. I wasn’t really allowed to do much judo in the beginning- so my judo workouts just consisted of working on tactical situations and technique. It was hard not to do a full practice but training like this also makes you stronger.
Being injured and sitting on the side lines- really tests your character. These kind of things could easily make or break you. When you face true challenges like this, challenges out of your control-this is when you decide if you want to give up or keep on fighting. When you are injured and you cannot do the work physically – this is when mental preparation and focus really becomes important. Through this whole experience I have learned to become patient with myself, and listen to my body and most importantly to be positive. Thanks to my coach, Jason Morris and my teammates- they have been extremely helpful these last few weeks getting me prepared for essentially the most important tournaments of my life. These last few tournaments decide whether or not I will be competing in the Olympic Games in Rio!
Being an elite requires your full commitment. You need to sleep, eat, and train with a purpose. I am really excited to jump back into competition and prove to myself that I can be here, that I can compete amongst the best in the world- no matter what injuries or other hardships I’ve had to face.
I am getting ready to leave for the Tblissi Grand Prix, then next weekend I will be competing in the Samsun Grand Prix. I pulled out of the NYAC open team tournament this past weekend so I could fully focus and make sure I am prepared as possible for these events. I wanted to say Congratulations to the Women’s team for winning the competition, two years in a row now! #TeamNYAC