Friday, August 3, 2012

Golden Girl: Kayla Harrison

Well she was an American Girl...(photo by  LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/GETTY IMAGES )

Keeping on the Olympian theme, I wanted to touch on Kayla Harrison, the newly-minted gold medalist in women's judo. We chatted a few months ago about her goals and journey leading up to the Olympics, and she shared with me her dream of becoming the first American judo athlete to win gold. Because of the nature of the story I was writing (a positive, motivational service piece as opposed to an in-depth profile), we never touched on the startling fact that Kayla was sexually abused by her former coach when she was just 13. Knowing this now and everything she overcame to achieve her lifelong goal makes her story even more impressive. Here are four inspiring facts about Kayla. 

She uses failure as her fuel.
“One of my favorite quotes is by Michael Jordan: 'Failure is my fuel.' Any time something bad has happened to me, I've used it to make me stronger. Anytime I lose a match, or when something goes wrong, this is what makes me a better player and person.”

She's resilient.
“I usually don't take more than a day to sulk after a bad performance. The older I get, the more I overcome, the more mentally tough I've gotten. This comes from experience and getting back on the horse, and really having confidence in myself." 

She's focused.
"When I was 13, I was about to compete at my first Junior World Championships when I snapped a ligament and broke bones in my thumb. I couldn't compete and I was devastated. I thought my career was over. Missing out on that opportunity only made me hungry for more." 

She's a fighter.
"One of my favorite mottos is that a goal set is a goal met. No matter what, you are going after that goal. As corny as it sounds, never give up. If you have a dream and you're willing to work hard and make sacrifices, the sky is the limit." 

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