Kayla Harrison is living the dream

-

Kayla Harrison is living the dream. She prolonged her Olympic title and where she though 2012 was the max, doubling feels so much better. "Winning my first Olympic gold (in 2012), I thought nothing would ever get better but this is better."

Kayla was the lightest judoka in the field, even in this Olympic cycle she fought a couple of events U70kg, but switched back to U78kg and won her first event in Havana. At the World Championships in 2014 she finished with bronze and in 2015 at the Worlds everything was so tense about the battle with Aguiar, that Harrison even finished before the last 8, just like Aguiar, saying it wasn’t an easy title in Rio.

Harrison: "Like I've said before, people don't realise is that it is not just today, it's the four years that led up to today. I can't tell you how many times I've drilled all of those situations, thousands and thousands and thousands. I've fought every single girl here a million times. My coaches made me fight in every tournament when I was tired, when I was injured, when I didn't want to fight. That's the reason that I won today, is because of them. They made me mentally tough and they made me ready for any situation."

The surprise was that the fight with Aguiar didn’t even come. So the crowd who was quite aggressive to you, changed a bit.

Harrison: "Because I didn't fight the Brazilian. No, I think that, they're not going to like that I have this to say, but I think they were afraid that if Mayra Aguiar fought me in the final that it would be a bad situation for her. So they wanted me to lose early and lose fast. But Mayra didn't make it to the final so I think that in the end they were like 'well, you can have it'."

Travis Stevens was also happy with his best career performance: "It's hard not to just break down in tears after everything I've been through in life and everything I've been through just in the past year: almost not even making it to the Games, almost retiring after all the injuries. To be able to put it to the grindstone and have my team behind me and get me to this point, it means more than the world to me. I wouldn't change my team for anyone else whether I win a silver, a gold or a bronze."

Jimmy Pedro is a great motivator, so he must have been happy too:

Travis Stevens: "He was proud of me. He's so happy that I've accomplished a silver compared to a bronze and that this has been the most deserved thing that anyone of us has ever done. So to be able to stand on the podium and have him as my coach and have him able to live those moments again, that makes me happy as an athlete."

In what way do you have a bond with your opponents?

Stevens: "I have a bond with everybody I compete with. We bleed together, sweat together, train together, go through all the trials and tribulations it takes to be an Olympian as athletes. Whether he wins or I win, I'm happy for him."

Kayla Harrison - Olympic & World Champion

Travis Stevens, U.S. Judo Athlete