For those of you who know me, you are very aware that I absolutely love the Olympic Games, the Olympic process and the Olympic Movement.
I was an Olympic Alternate in 2000, an Olympian in 2004, I coached at 4 athletes this year that competed in the Olympic Trials (weightlifting, track and field [athletics] and judo) and I have one athlete right now who is getting ready to compete in Beijing in the 60kg (132 lbs.) weight class in the sport of judo.
I also serve on the Athlete’s Advisory Council for USA Judo as a representative for the United States Olympic Committee.
So needless to say, every four years I get super pumped around this time of the year.
During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, I can remember watching the Games and watching American Jimmy Pedro win a Bronze Medal at the Olympics and I said to out loud to myself, “I’m going to the Olympics” and my mother said, “Okay honey.” In a very sarcastic tone, as if she didn’t think that I could do it.
Now I can truly understand her position.
I started judo at the age of 7 and stopped at the age of 13. And the time at which I had made that statement, I had not practice judo in 10 years. So, I can see how she would think I was “off my rocker”. If someone were to make such a statement to me, I’d probably think the same thing.
But needless to say, I graduated from college in 1997 and began training.
I really tried to make the 2000 Olympic Team. I quit a great paying job that I had while working for Texas Instruments as a Technical Sales Engineer and moved to the Olympic Training Center. I trained and trained and trained and trained but I came up short and ended up going to Sydney, Australia as a training partner and I paid for my whole entire trip.
I had to see for myself, EXACTLY what I was going to continue to train another 4 year for, I had to *see* the Olympics up close, even if I couldn’t *touch* it.
It was a tough trip and a bittersweet feeling to watch someone compete who I had beaten 2 outta the 3 times that we fought, but in 2000 there wasn’t an Olympic Trials process only a point selection process so I had to endure another four years.
Between 2000 and 2004 I got married to my lovely wife, Traci, and I graduated with my Masters Degree in Education and I moved back to the Olympic Training Center after having a total of 3 National Championship titles under my belt.
I was seasoned and ready to go all the way until I had a career-ending injury, 9 months before the Olympic Trials.
I was able to come back though and win the Olympic Trials and become an Olympian.
I was overjoyed and so was my mother
After retiring in 2005 and earning my Strength and Conditioning credential as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, I have become one of the foremost experts in the area of strength and conditioning for combat sports. I’ve coached fighters who fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championships, World Champion Submission Wrestlers and many Olympic Athletes.
As I said earlier, I had 4 current clients in this years Olympic Trials and a total of 9 Athletes that I coached and consulted for since 2004 that attended the Olympic Trials in their respective sports this year.
And the one and only athlete who has been with me since 2005, Taraje Williams-Murray, made the Olympic Team.
Taraje, will compete tomorrow at the Olympic Games in Beijing in the 60kg weight class.
He will face a formidable first round competitor from Japan and I truly believe that he will win and return to the United States with a medal around his neck.
But just in case he doesn’t, he’s won anyway.
The words of the Olympic creed are attributed to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympic Games and they read as such:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
And with that being said, Taraje Williams-Murray is a winner.
He’s a 2-Time Olympian, a 4-Time National Champion an accomplished producer of a best-selling DVD “Beyond The Rings”
Taraje is quite frankly, “The Man”
I recently got off the phone with Taraje and he’s ready to go and so am I. I will be watching and the whole world will be watching.
I’m sure you are very aware that being an Olympian, doesn’t pay big bucks, but it is an honorable task and feat. However after the Olympics are over, “real-life” smacks you dead in the face.
Taraje and I really took some extreme time and care to catalog what it is REALLY like to train for the Olympic Games. We included the ups-and-downs, the highs-and-lows, the pain, the pleasure, the sacrifice, the things you lose and the things that you gain. And what is really great about what it is that we captured through this process is that it applies to life, not just sport.
So both Taraje and I would really appreciate it, if you could and would support his DVD project “Beyond The Rings”
We promise you that you will not only learn a great deal, but you will benefit a great deal as well.
I cannot hammer this point home enough: If You Are A Coach, An Athlete, or A Parent of An Athlete, then this DVD “Beyond The Rings” is mandatory viewing”
Take care and be sure to visit http://www.Taraje.com and http://www.TheJudoCrusader.com for updates on Taraje’s performance.
Rhadi Ferguson, CSCS
4-Time National Judo Champion