Saturday, July 7, 2018

Wrestling with Excellence

A timely repost from la Vie Sirene

Going back nearly 2800 years the best athletes in the known world have gathered to compete and prove their skill as Olympians.  The ancient games featured athletic events as well chariot racing and tactical sports such as wrestling and the Greek martial art pankration.  Yet, despite the substantial number of female athletes participating in sports once labeled 
for men only, the respected millennia-old sport of wrestling has seen relatively few women competitors.  U.S. Olympian Kelsey Campbell intends to change that, while earning Olympic gold in the process.  La Vie Sirene is proud to feature the story of this extraordinary athlete and humanitarian.
You have been a major trail blazer in your sport, including being the only female wrestler at your university. How have your challenges improved your performance and vice versa?

I think that the different adversities I faced shaped my appreciation for the sport. Every practice had to mean something because it took everything I had to get to it. The long bus rides, borrowing wrestling shoes, the fundraisers to raise money... And then, you get there and you realize-I represent women's wrestling. I'm this team's only look at what my half of the sport is all about. If I complain, if I slack off, if I quit, that means all women's wrestling do. It was important to me to represent the sport the best I could. I wasn't trying to break barriers-at the time-I was just trying to string two good days together. But then I look back and realize what that did for the sport, but also what it did for me. I don't think I'd honestly be an Olympian today if my journey had taken any other course.

Being an Olympian is something akin to being an astronaut. So few of the world's population will ever have that experience. What was it like? And what did it teach you about yourself?

It changed everything and it changed nothing. Once again, there is a responsibility that comes with the title "Olympian." On the other hand, I'm still me and I still have a lot to attain in this sport. A lot of unfinished business. The difference is, I'm the only one at my weight right now that has gone there and done that. That's it. Everything else is up for grabs. I fought with all my heart to do what I did before, and now I'm digging deeper to do it in 2016, but with a medal to follow. I learned mostly that it doesn't take a super human to be the champion. It takes a human making a decision everyday to put themselves in the best position. It takes humility to learn from those around me that have accomplished what I have not. It taught me that any day can be my day (to God be the glory), but that it may or may not be. I love wrestling. I loved it when I wasn't winning. I loved it when I was winning.

Clearly, you are a woman of faith. How does your spirituality drive your decision-making and your attitude towards competition?

It drives me because my motivation is about pleasing God. Honestly. I feel awesome when I see success and accomplish goals. But there's no fooling myself: I truly believe if God does or doesn't have it in the cards for me to go to Rio, then I won't be there. It's not an excuse or a cop-out. It's the reality of what I believe. But I love God so much that I'll live every day, doing my very best to allow that relationship to drive me. To work the hardest. To do my best. To admit my mistakes. To continue to be a student. To not neglect what the Bible calls me to do in being evangelistic and committed to Godly people. I think that sums it up.

I love that you refer to yourself as a 'music maker.'   What can you tell us about the role of music in your life?

The first thing I ever wanted to do as a young girl was be a famous recording artist. I wanted to write and perform my own music, and choreograph routines for it. I started at a young age and have even recorded some songs. What I have on YouTube is from high school, but that has always been my dream and what I believe to be my true natural "talent."

You've had so many huge moments in life already. Which have meant the most to you and how have they affected you?

Making the Olympic Team, of course. I loved giving that victory to God and to those around me that helped pave the way and create the path. There were many involved in that dream realized. Becoming a Christian was the single most important thing. It changed my life. It changed my heart. I forgave and repented and committed my life to something that would dictate every single decision I would make. Having my Dad at the Olympics to watch me on the biggest physical stage in Sport. There are so many. Meeting Kobe Bryant ;)

One of your various philanthropic pursuits is work with the Big Brother / Big Sister organization. What do you hope to impart to future generations and what draws you to working with kids?
Keep tabs on Kelsey’s quest for Olympic gold 
via her Facebook fan page or website

I literally want to mentor my Little Sister into a woman that is bent on changing the world. I love the hands-on approach of investing real and constant time into an individual. These youths come from situations where every single adult they know has been to jail or is in jail. It doesn't have to be that way for them. I'm incredibly passionate about mentoring youth and would also someday love to start a Foster Care/Orphanage for displaced youth.

What are you looking forward to next?

I am training to be America's first Olympic Gold Medalist. Whatever else happens along the way, I try to be opportunistic. I'm currently completing an internship with eBay, and coaching on various levels from developmental to elite level wrestlers. I'm also looking to once again pursue my performing side. I would love to get into acting and music again. It really is where my heart is at.