Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2010
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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
11.19.2010 – 11.26.2010
We left for Abu Dhabi today. From Boston it will be two days journey. I’m not looking forward to that! Originally, we were supposed to fly as a team but because of some technical difficulties I will be flying alone. I am a little nervous about this because this is my first time to Abu Dhabi and I forgot to write down the name of the hotel. Luckily I meet up with my teammate Hana Carmichael (-57kg) in Doha and we finish the last leg of the journey together. For some reason we arrive at the around 2am and once we get to the hotel I don’t have much energy to enjoy its beauty.
Last night when we got to the room Hana and I were so hungry we raided the mini-bar. One of the joys of being a heavyweight is not having to watch my weight! So we each get a drink and we split a jar of m&m’s... but this morning Hana looks at the prices and we convert it to find out that those delicious M&M’s © cost 20.00 american dollars! Its the most expensive midnight snack either of us has ever enjoyed. We decide to go down to breakfast and in the elevator we meet up with our coach, Jimmy Pedro. The breakfast is delicious and after a nice meal and a good nights rest I am finally able to appreciate the quality of our hotel! Its marvelous! The beds are big and comfy, the food is good, and the people seem very eager to help!
After the draws are up, we go for a team run. It is myself, Aaron Kunihiro (-60kg), Hana Carmichael (-57kg), Marti Malloy (-57kg) and our Olympic coach, Jimmy Pedro. We run for about fifteen minutes in one direction before stopping to stretch and head back. While were running I can’t help but notice that much of the city surrounding us is under construction. The roads, the buildings, it seems as if all of it is being redone. The air is dry and dusty, like a desert. It is very different from my home and I find the conditions hard to run in. I’m not cut out to be a desert woman!
When we return from our run we find that two of our teammates have still not arrived. It seems that Travis Stevens (-81kg) and Nick Delpopolo (-73kg) are stuck in Morocco for another day. Luckily they don’t fight until the second day so our coach is confident they will make it in time to compete. And our last competitor, Billy Worthington (-100kg) has made it safe and sound. Things are looking good for team USA.
After our run and a nice shower, Hana and I decide we need to get our supplies for the tournament tomorrow. So we ask the concierge if he knows of a nearby supermarket where we can buy things like water and granola bars. We don’t have to go very far. Right next to our hotel is a huge mall and at the bottom of the mall is a sizable supermarket.
We enter the store to find it packed. People are running around rushing to get there groceries it seems, and I find it to be like a zoo. Nevertheless, we find the water and bananas, etc. quite easily. Its interesting to see how things are priced differently, based on the imports and exports. For instance, Pringles© are much more expensive in Abu Dhabi than they are in the US. My theory is that is because they have to import them.
We return to the hotel and rest because tomorrow is the start of the tournament. On the way back, I can’t help but notice how the men seem to stare at me. Like I’m an alien. I’m big and blonde, and wearing shorts so I stick out like a sore thumb. It is a disconcerting feeling. I try to ignore it.
November 22. 2010
The first day of competition is today and my roommate Hana is up first. After weigh ins and a good breakfast we head to the tournament. We ride in buses that look like they’re from the 1960’s. But the building that the tournament is in is still being built. Its huge! And very modern. The warm up mats are plenty big enough and the venue looks nice. I’m thinking this will be a well run event.
Unfortunately, the lightweights on the team do not fare too well. But we stay and watch the tournament for a bit before heading back to the room for some dinner and an early night in. I don’t like to do much before I fight. I fall asleep visualizing my matches, especially against the frenchwoman, Audrey Tchuemo.
November 23. 2010
Today my training partner, Nick Delpopolo fights along with Travis Stevens. I am so nervous. I hate fighting on the last day because I get more nervous for my team mates than I do for myself. And its draining to watch them compete. Its like fighting a lion the day before you fight, not a good idea.
Nick and I do our usual routine. I warm him up and tell him how awesome he is. Its good to get a reminder every now and again! He wins his first three matches which puts him in the semi-finals against Ukraine. Either way he medals so I am pleased. He came here and did what needed to be done. We all relax on the mat during the break by playing cards then Nick gets warmed up again. I’m so nervous for him! I head to the stands to cheer him on with the rest of the team.
He fights a tough match but ends up losing. I’m still proud of him. He walked away with a medal and a breakthrough like that is important. This is his first grand prix or grand slam medal. I am sure it is just the beginning.
I head back to the hotel alone after congratulating him. I need some time alone to relax and unwind. My mental preparation before a tournament is very important to me. I fall asleep again dreaming of a rematch with miss Audrey….
I sleep all through the night which is a good sign. I always do better when I’m well rested. Some people are meant to sing. Others are meant to dance. I am meant to fight. It is my purpose. And knowing and believing in that purpose has made me invincible before. When I believe in myself, I am the best. I believe it today.
I head to weigh ins and eat some breakfast. This is when things start to blur together. I feel so focused, so in the the moment on days that I fight that I don’t really notice anything else.
We arrive at the tournament and I tape my wrist. Hana does my hair just the way I like it. I have on my lucky shorts, and bra and shirt. I put on my socks and shoes and head to a quiet place to start my warm up. I run for five minutes, listening to the same song that I always listen to. I focus on breathing and feeling my body. How does it feel? Does it need anything? Eminem buzzes in my ear as I stretch. I think about the day ahead of me. This is my purpose. I am at home here. I am in my zone.
Jimmy comes to get me. I am on the board and my day has officially started.
I have a good day. A good day, not a great day, but good enough. Afterwards I head to the seating area for the medalists. On the podium, I hear the National anthem of the United states and my heart swells with pride. It is an indescribable feeling, hearing that song played. It never ceases to make me catch my breath and thank my lucky stars.
Of course, I congratulate all the medalists and head to doping control. My chaperone is different this time. This time, I can only see her eyes. She is wearing all black and is covered from head to toe. Needless to say, its odd, having to expose myself to someone who I can barely see. It takes a while but I finally fill up a cup, after having about three bottles of water. The official is worried that the Ph level isn’t high enough, but we ship it off regardless. And then Jimmy and I get the heck outta there to go grab some food! Its nine o’clock at night by this point so we are starving!
After a small dinner of a delicious cheeseburger and fries I head to the room to pack. Tomorrow I leave for Japan for some training before finishing out the year with the Tokyo grand slam. Another 3 weeks on the road, but I don’t let it bug me. Another adventure starts tomorrow, and I can’t wait.