Friday, August 3, 2012

Half a lifetime ago

Have you been watching the Olympics this week? I have. Big time. I set the DVR to record the primetime coverage, then start watching it a few hours later so I can skip through the commercials and the inane interviews at poolside. Where does NBC get these commentators?

Anyway, even though synchronized diving and beach volleyball aren't exactly iconic Olympic sports, I really enjoy watching these two events. In my mind, diving is the scariest sport ever. How those guys miss hitting their heads on the platform never ceases to amaze me, nor does the fact that their Speedos stay on when they hit the water. And every time I watch Misti May and Kerri make another dig or kill, I'm inspired to run out in the corral for a pick-up game with the boys.

I was ecstatic yesterday when Kayla Harrison won the first Olympic gold medal ever for the U.S. in judo. Yeah, I'm weird. Judo is one of those obscure sports that nobody cares about, even during the Olympics. But I used to care about it very much – some would say too much.

Way back in 1980, my then husband and I decided we needed to find a hobby we could share, so we looked in the local recreation center catalogue for a class that might pique our interest. We signed up for Beginning Judo. He dropped out after the first week and switched to Chinese Cooking, but I was hooked. I would study judo three nights a week while he went to cooking class, then come home and eat his homework. Win win!

The teacher of my class, Jim Takemori, happened to be the coach of the U.S. women's judo team at the time, and he had four daughters who were all champions. They became my training partners, and the next thing I knew, I was traveling with them all over the country to compete. Everyone I knew thought I was nuts, particularly my coworkers, who would see the black eyes and the bruises on my legs and think my husband was beating the crap out of me. But I didn't care; I was having too much fun, literally tossing people around.

I was 29 in this picture, at my fighting weight of 63 kg. That was the part about judo that sucked – you had to make weight before every competition. But I loved everything else about it – the discipline required to master a throw, the strength and stamina needed to outlast an opponent, and the confidence it gave me to take on anything or anyone. I lived and breathed the sport for six years before an injury got in the way and I gave it up, but I carry its lessons with me to this day.

So, Kayla Harrison, I salute you. I'm sure your friends and coworkers probably think you should have devoted your life to a more lucrative sport, but some of us most of us weren't built for gymnastics.

20 comments:

  1. I took up ice hockey this past winter. My number was my age: 47. There is something to be said for doing something for the joy of doing it. I am not good. I am not trying to prove anything. I am enjoying chasing a puck around the ice with a bunch of other women my age. We are called the Pucker Uppers. We apologize when we bump into each other.

    Being outside, being physical, being with friends. If you worked out the odds for which of the people in the world were meant to be Olympic quality, you would be at the math for a long time. Nadia and Olga were my inspiration, but my body and my mental toughness kept me from being a force in any sport. Doing it, even for a little while, gives me infinite appreciation for anyone who can be THAT good!

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  2. Your story just keeps getting better and better! Ever jumped out of a plane?

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  3. I had one or two passing thoughts about how you would protect yourself if some individuals showed up at the 7MSN making trouble! Thx for answering that questions eh! ;-)

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  4. Anne Boleyn8/3/12, 6:20 AM

    I swear, Carson, you absolutely NEVER cease to amaze me. Never. And I just love you for being so amazing.

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  5. Another impressive history lesson about you Sensei Linda!

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  6. Wow, now I see how your story is coming together. You obviously were always a super strong woman, tenacious and determined. No wonder you can be on your own out there in the wilderness! I love that about you! I salute YOU and Kayla!!
    Patti

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  7. How very cool! This is not something I would have expected to find on your personal resume'.

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  8. How cool is that? I bet everyone has little secrets like that from way back when.

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  9. Try the jumping out of an aeroplane bit - the world takes on a different perspective when you are drifting down in perfect silence :)

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  10. I was amazed at all the countries I had never heard of and what it must have taken to get their athletes to England. Lots of special moments in these games. Michael Phelps...What?
    Weren't you cute at 29! A fierce opponent, I'd bet.
    It all makes me want to try a sit-up or two.

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  11. When you go for something, you go all in. Love that you shared this bit of pre-7MSN Carson.

    I guess you really could identify with the London games since you have experience high end coaching yourself.

    Just Wow

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  12. Great insights into your tenacity and grit. I love it.

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  13. Hey! Something new I didn't know about you. Very cool. I think any pursuit done with passion is a worthy one (provided it doesn't bring harm).

    I don't have tv, so I haven't seen a single bit of the Olympics this year. I suppose I could stream it live on my computer, but it just doesn't feel the same. It's a shame, because I really like the summer Olympic events.

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  14. You just never cease to amaze me!!! No wonder you can take on a rattlesnake!

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  15. No wonder you're so good at rattler wrangling! And yes, I agree: either toss people around, or move far, far away from them... :D Black belt?

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  16. Wow! Who would have guessed?

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  17. Great story Carson. I used to race bicycles but that was then. I still ride but the old gal has two baskets on the back and one on the front and it goes with me to the grocery store. I just need a couple of plastic flowers on the back end and a sign that says I used to race ha ha! Life has a way of changing doesn't it.
    Thanks for sharing your picture. I also laughed out loud about the husband's cooking class. Nothing better than a husband who cooks, cleans, does laundry, yard work and fixes the car. Ha!
    Best always, Sandra

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  18. Okay..... Waaaaayyyyy cool! Thanks for sharing that little tidbit of your life with us......

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  19. What a terrific story to dare. Remind me to tell you about the years I spent bruised and sore - from fencing. Nothing like a sword in your hand. But tossing people around sounds fun! Lol

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  20. Just returned from a visit to your part of the country . This was the greenest I have ever seen the Mountainair area was a great visit. I love the way blogging allows us to see little glimpses into each others lives past and present creating a more vivid picture of how we came to be who we are. Thank you for sharing, I continue to admire the life you are living out there. Two more years till I can finally begin the daunting process of building on my land. I hope to meet you one day when we are neighbors of sorts.

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