I'm Backkkkkk!

“Every test in our life makes us bitter or better, every problem comes to break us or make us. The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor!”
I’m Back!! It feels so good to say that. After a 6 week hiatus from the tatami- I am back to training! I injured my knee a few months back and had to get a minor surgery to fix it and these past 6 weeks have been brutal!! I pretty much center my whole entire schedule around training- so when you cannot train! There is a lot of time that needs to be filled. I have learned a lot about myself in these past few weeks.

1. I am a very impatient person
2. I’m a very angry person when I am not able to train

The really only upside to not being able to train in the past month is – I had a lot less laundry! You go through so much laundry when you are training 2-3x a day!!! So it was a nice little break from constantly washing my clothes!

But it’s nice to be back! Literally have the biggest smile on my face!! And now I am working on getting back in shape and preparing for my busy schedule next year!!!

2015?! Are you ready?

Forget Yesterday. Today is a new Beginning.

“Today is a new beginning, a chance to turn your failures into achievements, and your sorrows into good. No room for excuses.” – Joel Brown

You wake up to, to train, to work towards your dreams, your goals. And when you perform horribly and don’t succeed that is when the true tests starts. It tests your character, and it makes you question yourself and sometimes you need to take a step back and relax. (Which in my case- is the hardest part of all) I am currently watching the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, from home. I was supposed to go to Abu Dhabi to compete but sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Before leaving for the Kazakhstan Grand Prix, I inured my knee the night before I was going to hop on the plane. Of course I ignored it, I am used to having little nicks and bruises, especially in the knee department. However, the two days of travel to Almaty did not help my knee one bit, and I still competed and continued to train on it without giving it any rest. I lost first round in Almaty to the eventual Silver Medalist, Anna Bernholm from Sweden. I promised myself that I would have a better week, in Uzbekistan but I was ousted first round as well by Munkhzaya Tsedevsuren who ended up taking a bronze medal.

Leaving the two bad tournaments behind me, I continued on to Israel to train at the National Training Center. Four practices in, and I got injured. I am the type of person that always pushes myself to the very end, I am always training and I never stop and now my body is fighting back. Telling me to STOP! I think it’s time for you to rest. For example, after every single tournament I literally get off the plane and go to straight to training. I love to train, I love working towards my goals. But at times I forget that rest and recovery is an important part of training- and I always ignore that part.

I was away from home for three weeks and most of the time I spent it in Israel on the side line, but considering the circumstances I had an amazing time in Israel. I had the chance to watch how hard the men and women train. Everyone has a positive attitude, everyone works hard. The girls show up practice 30-20 minutes before judo starts. Most of their practices starts as early as 8am, and then they have a second practice in the afternoon. They lift weights as a team, eat as a team. It is a great atmosphere and it was really nice to be part of the team while I was there. I am used to always traveling by myself, or if we do send a team to a tournament it is always small and our team is not that close because we are from all different parts of the country. The girl’s took me to see Jerusalem, it was an amazing time and I hope next time when I have a chance to visit again I will be able to visit the Dead Sea!!I wanted to Thank Shany Hershko, Lior Wildikan, Camila Minakawa, Rotem Shor and Yarden Gerbi for making me feel part of Team Israel!

To be an elite athlete, it’s more than just showing up to practice and going through the motions, listening to what your coach has to say. To be the best in the world, it truly takes pure 100% dedication to your sport. You need a passion, a special drive. It’s a unique passion. It’s the one that tells you to get back up after you been thrown down. It’s the one that tells you to keep moving forward even though nobody is there to support you. It’s a drive to be more than ordinary and that is what makes being an Olympic elite athlete special. You are willing to grind it out, and fight through the hard times. Everybody in the world is training, and everyone wants to win. Question Is, who really wants it the most?! Young athletes come to me and tell me, “I want to be good. I want to win.” I always ask them the same question, “How?” How are you going to win? What is your plan?! Without a destination, you are training with no purpose. You can’t be successful without a plan and going through day to day routines. Sitting on the sidelines in Israel, watching the former 2013 World Champion, Yarden Gerbi, train, just proves that there is no magic pill to success. It takes time, long hours and lots and lots of preparation to become a winner. Everyone is trying to get better, which means even the World Champion needs to improve and get better. And that is all that we can do. If you want to win, if you want to succeed you must simply prepare to do it. As I get ready for the 2015 season, I have control of how I train and prepare for these upcoming events.

The better prepared I am for each tournament, the more success!

It's been a while

It's been awhile since I have written a blog post! Every time I go to sit down and write I lose focus and motivation and usually have nothing exciting to say, except "another day of training, it was good!" 

 At the moment I am in Tashkent,Uzbekistan without limited access to wifi, and bored without it. So now I have an excuse to write and bore you all with my creative thoughts! I honestly just feel like I am talking to myself, I doubt anyone actually reads my blog entries! But for those of you- who decided to read this! I apologize in advance for this boring post, and hope in some way you find it entertaining!

 Anyways- this will be my third time competing here in Tashkent. I first came here in 2011, it was a period of time when I decided to change weight categories. I moved up from 57kg to 63kg and went on a losing streak! I literally lost almost all my matches at every single international event I went to!! Miami, El Salvador, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Samoa, Paris and Austria!! Eeeekkk 8 tournaments! I seriously don't know how I kept on trucking on! Losing so much really messes with your head and motivation. At that time I think I was like "what's the point in all of this?" But I truly love judo and I could not picture my life without it. In 2012 I really started working on my mind set and my confidence, that is where the slogan "fake it until you make it" 

Came into play! 

So now here I am 3 years later, ranked number 16 in the world and seeded 6 at this Olympic Qualifying event! It blows my mind away! But in all honesty I have worked my ass off to be here and to be at this level! It's amazing how reading positive quotes- can make a difference in your life. 

Last year I took a silver medal here and I hope (plan) on taking another medal here! I told myself that I am not coming home empty handed!

Last weekend I competed in Astana, Kazakhstan. And I am so embarrassed with my performance! I wish there was a way to take my name and erase it out of the draw and act like I was never there! I would say this was probably one of my worse performances this year. It took me two days to get to Astana for a 4 minute match of pure disgrace! ( I am my own worst critic) There is no point in lying to yourself. I sucked last weekend! 

So now it is time to prove to myself and everyone else who is watching that I actually can do judo and that I don't really suck!

I have a few more days until I compete- time literally can't go by any slower!!!!! I have already read all the books on my iPad and there are no English channels! ( I should have figured that!) All I have left are my thoughts! Yay!!

After Uzbekistan, I will go to Israel for 10 days to train! I am so excited for this- and will probably dedicate a separate blog entry for that part of my trip!

After Israel, I will compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. Last year it was a Grand Prix event and I took a bronze medal. I was very excited about this medal because I injured my back a week and a half before the tournament doing deadlifts!!! ( it was lightweight!) and I couldn't even walk straight or move! It was scary! I really was thinking about canceling my trip but I already dished the money out for it so I figure why not take a shot! It's another opportunity! So coming home with a bronze medal was a huge shock to me- and maybe to others? Haha

I hope after a great week of training in Israel, I'll be able to take home another medal from Abu Dhabi land! I have never won a grand slam medal before and it is something I would like to cross off my goal list!

I am literally spending 4 weeks out of the country. This is the longest amount of time I have spent out of the USA! Besides some of my friends and family and of course Fast WIFI I really miss Starbucks! It's really hard to find a satisfying cup of coffee around these parts!

Hope you enjoyed this little update! Cross your fingers and send happy positive vibes my way! 

I will be competing Friday at 10am Local Time! 


 You can watch live: Ippon.tv



Summer is over…

September 1, 2014

WC1Just returned home from the biggest competition of the year! The tournament organizers did it RIGHT this year! This World Championships was probably by far the biggest and most well run tournament to date and I am so happy that I got to be part of it and experience it!

My World Championships performance was a big disappointment for me. I lost by one shido first match to the eventual bronze medalist Tina Trstenjak from Slovenia. The worse way to lose is on penalties. The ball was in my court and I did not control the outcome. I do want to say Congratulations to KAYLA HARISSON for taking a bronze medal! She was the only USA athlete to medal here, and we all very proud!

Next up: I leave for Croatia in 9 days!! So basically, I am home to pick myself up back up again, do my laundry and get some good quality training in so I can prove to the world once again. That I mean Business!

Here are some photos from the World Championships!!

2o14WCwc4 wc5 wc6wc7



July 2014: Life on the Road

ASianJuly is almost over, this summer I almost over. I spent a total of 6 WHOLE days in the USA this month. It has been a crazy month, and I feel like I have been through a lot of character building life scenarios. Life on the road, you pretty much have to roll with the punches, adapt and deal with any given situation. Everything is completely out of your control! This month of travel in particular really has tested me, mentally and physically, and if I did not have the love and passion for the sport- at this point I might have called it quits. But I have one major goal in mind and I am not going to let travel hiccups get in the way of what I really want, and that is an Olympic Gold medal.

So let's back up and start at the beginning of the month. July 1st, I traveled from NY-KOREA-Mongolia to compete in the Mongolia Grand Prix. 15+ hours of travel and an extreme case of jet lag, I was scheduled to fight on that Saturday. The worse feeling is being awake all night and then having to compete at 10am the next day. Red Bull anyone?! But I am not complaining- this is what I signed up for. I was the 2nd seed at this event and ended up placing 7th. The good thing about performing so poorly was that I got to make up for it at the Mongolian training camp. I was also the only American that decided to stay, so I became part of the Canadian Team for the week. I was like their adopted teammate!

After the training camp, my next destination was Tyumen, Russia. I was scheduled to compete at the Grand Slam. However, at the Mongolian Airport I was denied a boarding pass to Moscow because the date on my Visa was incorrect. I was so worried that I was not going to be able to make it in time, but I had to pay $100.00 to change my flight to the next day. The only minor inconvenience was I was going to be stuck at the Moscow airport for 24 hours because they only have two flight a day that go to Tyumen. I was also scheduled to arrive in Tyumen literally 3 hours before weigh-ins. Talk about cutting it EXTREMELY close! Good thing I don't have to stress about making weight or I would have been in trouble. During my 24 hour stay at Moscow I did decide to get a little work out in, which consisted of running up and down the stairs and walking laps around the airport for 45 minutes. (It wasn't too strenuous but at least I was moving around and killing time)

So after 24 hours of loneliness at the Moscow airport I finally arrived in Tyumen and met up with my 4 other USA teammates, Marti Malloy, Kayla Harrison, Travis Stevens and Nick Delpopolo. It was so nice to see some familiar faces. I weighed in, ate dinner and got as much sleep as possible before the competition the next day.

I lost first round to Pari Surkatova of Russia, who ended up taking a bronze medal at the end of the day. After all the traveling annoyance it would have been nice to have a good performance and pick up a medal at this event. I spent the next three days in Tyumen at the training camp. It was an awesome training camp, most of the teams stayed so I got a chance to get my hands on most of the girl's that are in my division. A great opportunity, especially before the World Championships! I was so happy to leave Russia and head back home after being away for 17 days!

I arrived back in NY, immediately went to judo practice! It feels good to get your sweat on after being crammed in economy class. I swear one day I'll fly internationally in first class. I spent my 6 days at home training twice a day and tanning by the pool. My job also scheduled me to work a 10 hour and 7 hour shift on the weekend, so I also got to make a little bit of money during my short stay at home.

Brad Bolen, Alex Turner and I left for TPE on Thursday, we decided to go to the Asian Open because we thought it would be a good opportunity to get our hands on some quality players. We left from Albany- flew to Chicago, SFO and then TPE. We arrived in TPE around 6:30pm Friday afternoon and we were scheduled to compete on Sunday! I was able to sleep 10 hours on the flight from SFO to TPE so once I arrived I knew I was going to have trouble falling asleep. I decided to take a sleeping pill that night, but I only ended up sleeping 4 hours. The same thing happened to me the following night before the competition. I accidently fell asleep at 8pm, woke up at 10, and fell back to sleep from 11 to 3 and after that it was pure torture! I tried to read to make myself tired and fall back to sleep but that didn't work at all.

That morning before the tournament, I loaded up on caffeine and prayed that the day would run smoothly. The bus was late and we arrived 30 minutes before the tournament was about to start. I had a bye first round so I had time to drink a Red Bull and warm up properly. I won my first fight and then the tournament decided to take a break and start the opening ceremonies. I am not exaggerating when I say I had to wait 4 hours between my first and second fight! As the time passed I just felt worse and worse, my body was telling me to go to sleep but I was in the middle of a competition!!! I ended up losing my semi-final match, and at the end of the day coming home with a Bronze Medal. It was nice to be on the podium after taking a number of fifths and seventh's these last few months.

On the way back to San Francisco- at about 4 hours into our flight. We had to turn back and divert to Japan because there was a mechanical issue on our plane. The flight attendants told us a small fire had started in one of the economy class ovens, so we had to turn back. Once we arrived in Japan, we had to wait HOURS until they finally got us on busses and brought us to our hotels. Our hotel was literally 45 minutes away from the airport, and when we woke up the next morning we realized that we were staying at a Disney Resort hotel, we could literally see the Disney Castle from our hotel rooms! It was pretty awesome! We worked out in their gym and we even did uchi-komi's by the pool! This was my first experience being in Japan, and I have to admit it wasn't THAT BAD!

Once we arrived in Chicago, I was hoping things to run smoothly. We touched down at about 2:30pm, and didn't get out of the plane until 3pm. The captain told us there wasn't any open gates for us to park. That is when I started losing it! I was already sick of being in planes and traveling and we only had an hour and a half to make our connecting flight to Albany!! After getting through Customs, picking up our bags and changing terminals. We literally had 10 minutes to get to our gate before they closed it. I was standing in the security line, looking at Brad. All hope was lost, there was no way we were going to make it. We asked people if we could cut in front of them because our gate was about to close and people were super nice about it. When I say we BARELY made our flight, we barely did!! We stood at the gate literally for 2 minutes before we were boarded on our plane!

Of course since we had such a tight connection our bags didn't make the flight to Albany! But It's ok! I am home, sitting in my bed and packed and ready to leave for Fort Lauderdale at 6:30AM tomorrow for the Pan American Open!

It's going to be so nice to go on vacation one day....

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