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Why I quit being an Olympic hopeful

Why I quit being an Olympic hopeful
Photo by Timon Studler / Unsplash

I wanted to be an Olympic Wrestler.

Or at least a World or Asian one. My hypothesis: I could condense twenty years of training into four, through heart, intelligence, and a willingness to invest time and money. After 1.5 years of training, competing, and collecting data, the verdict is in. I can’t.

More precisely, I am not willing to pay the price. I thought the price is training 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, and hiring a personal coach. I thought that would be enough, and I thought wrong.

I won 5 gold and 2 silver medals against unlikely odds: Wrestlers 18kg heavier. Wrestlers with 5 years more experience. Male wrestlers. It didn’t matter. Because I sucked against a national wrestler. In fact, I lost in less than one minute. There are many reasons — She has been wrestling for 20 years. She competes internationally. Wrestling is her job.

Losing against her, it’s understandable, reasonable, and even expected. This is nice for my ego. But the question isn’t what are all the reasons it was OK for me to lose. It is, Am I going to achieve my goal?

It seems I won’t. I gave myself four years to compete at an international level. I have two and a half years left. This national wrestler who pummeled me? Compared to international wrestlers, she is not very good at all. And I sucked against her. There’s no way I’m going to achieve my goal of competing internationally with the time I have left.

I thought the price was a non-trivial % of my income and 20 hours per week dedicated to wrestling. It’s higher, way higher. The price is closer to wrestling full time, attending and funding international wrestling camps, and hiring sparring partners. This is a price I am not willing to pay.

At this point, my only hesitation is ego. What will people think?

And this is how I know.

It’s time to quit.




photo credit: After work sunset by Kari Nousiainen