U.S. Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison Beats The Odds And Wins Gold In London
Kayla Harrison, 22, couldn’t have asked for a better Olympic debut, winning gold in Judo at the 2012 London Games. Having already made history in 2010 as the first U.S. woman to win the Judo World Championships in 26 years, the pressure was on for the top-ranked U.S. judoka to perform. And Harrison did not disappoint.
The Middletown, Ohio, native picked up judo at the young age of 6, thanks to a push from her mother, who believed the sport would equip Harrison with valuable life skills. When Harrison was just 12 years old, she qualified for the Olympic trials. But her judo career took a dark turn a few years later when, at age 16, she revealed that she was being sexually abused by her coach. After pressing charges and engaging in much deliberation over whether to continue competing, Harrison began training with former two-time Olympic gold medalist Jimmy Pedro, who also trains Harrison’s mentor, current MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.
Heading into the 2012 games, Harrison carried the nickname “Doug,” a tag her teammates had given her. But perhaps “clairvoyant” would have been more fitting for Harrison, whose habit of visualizing every detail of the entire competition over and over always ended with her predicting her gold-medal outcome.
“My coach is really big on visualization and positive thinking," Harrison said in her exclusive video interview with Uinterview. "So every night before I go to bed, I take about ten minutes and I literally visualize the perfect day on August 2 in London for me. I go through waking [up], going to weigh-ins, having my weight good …. I always say a little prayer before I leave my hotel room. I visualize listening to my music on the bus on the way to the venue. George Strait, "Amarillo By Morning" is playing in my head …. I always visualize myself on top of the podium, watching the American flag go up and listening to the National Anthem,” Harrison told us.