Country: United States
Weight category: -78kg
Achievements: London 2012 Olympic champion, Rio 2016 Olympic champion, 2010 world champion
I started judo when I was six years old in a small dojo in Ohio. My mother had taken judo in college and needed something to keep my inner "wild child" from driving her crazy... I had so much energy! She wanted me to learn self defense and have some discipline and knew that judo was the perfect combination.
Representing the United States:
From a young age I loved watching the Olympics and watching people go out and achieve their dreams. I didn't know what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to be the best... then I found judo and knew that was my purpose in life.
Judo is more than a sport:
I think judo is so much more than sport. I think it is a way of life. On one hand, it is a martial art where you learn Kano's teachings and ways of life. Judo is all about using someone else's momentum against them, its all about going with the flow and being disciplined and focused all the while. All great life lessons. Judo is also a sport, and sports emulate life. They teach you how to win with grace and lose with dignity. They teach you that you need people to succeed; coaches training partners, teammates.
Winning gold at London 2012 Olympic Games:
I have so many memories. Honestly the entire trip was like a dream to me. The opening ceremony was absolutely breathtaking. Walking into that stadium and realising I was about to achieve my dreams, that feeling of being anxious and excited and a little bit of fear mixed with a lot of confidence, its an amazing feeling. I felt the heat from the Olympic flame on my cheek... how many people can say that? Another big moment for me was watching Marti (Malloy) win her bronze medal. She had been so fantastic and she's like a sister to me so seeing her succeed was heartwarming. I was so happy for her. World and Olympic medalist, a champion of champions.
Judo in the United States:
I would say that participation in the US is growing, but it is no where near where it could and should be. I do believe that interest is growing though so hopefully we can capitalise on that and make it a powerhouse in the international world and a household sport in the US.
Judo's continued growth:
I think that the World Judo Tour is an amazing fun and easy way to bring the highest level of the sport to all areas of the world for people to see. If we put our best foot forward people can and will fall in love with judo. I think its only a matter of time before the fire is lit and I am so excited to be a part of it.