Australian judo player and MMA fighter Ivo dos Santos is currently preparing to compete in the men’s 66-kilogram (145.5-pound) division at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where he will attempt to become the first Australian male to medal in judo since 1964. Here is his latest blog entry.
So, I am sitting here at Wolverhampton University, where the Australian Judo Team is holding camp, and it’s dawned on me that in less than a week I will have accomplished the dream I have had since I was a 6-year-old boy.
I remember watching Barcelona ‘92, that cauldron being lit with the archer’s arrow. In four days, I’ll be in a stadium in London watching that cauldron being lit. I’ll be surrounded by the best athletes on earth and -- something I never thought would be true -- I’ll be there as one of their peers, not a spectator. It is bizarre how you can dream about a moment like that for so long (20 years!) and when you get there, you realize there’s something more you want.
For me, that is a medal. I am the first to admit that I am an outsider and unlikely to figure too highly in many people’s medal guesses. But, guess what? I will walk on that mat ranked 13 out of 36 in the 66-kilo category. I really hope my rivals are superstitious because I have every intention of being a bad omen for them.
I’ve been lucky enough to do a few interviews in recent times and the same theme keeps coming up: “It’s so great just to be here.” Whilst, yes, this is true, that is the furthest thing from my mind.
If you follow my Facebook page, you would have noticed that I see this competition as a war and am treating it as such. Some of the reasons I can’t “enjoy” the moment right now are:
- There are 272 athletes on the world ranking list in my weight class. That means there are 236 guys who would walk over hot coals to be where I am. I owe it to them to strive for more than participation.
- I owe it to my family, who has had to deal with me travelling the world, training every day and putting my life on hold for this dream. It isn’t their dream, but they have all put their necks on the line for me at some stage.
- I owe it to my teammates and coaches. Judo isn’t ballet (no offense). My team have quite literally been bruised, battered, slammed, pinned and choked, all for my benefit.
- Most importantly, I owe it to the 6-year-old little boy who sat in front of the TV with his mouth wide open. I didn’t realize at the time, but the only reason those athletes were in that stadium was because they never settled for “good enough.” Being there, watching the opening ceremony was just a small part of their dream.
Competing is what they were there for, what had gotten them there and what was driving them to be the best they could be on the ultimate stage, the Olympic Games.
So, to sum up my crazy thoughts, I am willing to accept whatever result comes next Sunday as long as I go out, compete and give it everything I can. In my mind, there is no second chance. I cannot and will not have that enter my mind!
I think I will end this blog with a quote from Steve Prefontaine, one of the most inspirational athletes to ever walk this Earth: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
Read more from Ivo dos Santos at IvoJudo.com and follow him on Twitter @ivo_dos_santos.