Every Medal Has A Story
Gold, U.S. Open 2011, WKF, -84kg

I was heading to the 2011 U.S. Open Championships, Las Vegas. Along with my suitcase, I packed my preparation in training, as well as some dreams. 

2008 was my first U.S. Open, where I won fifth place in open division. In 2009, at -84kg, I won third place, and was very happy with this medal. There, as I watched the finals, I thought to myself, "Wow! How beautiful it must be to be in the finals!… The stage is up, the lights are on, about a thousand people are watching… I wish I could be there, too!" 
Back in 2011, on board my five-hour flight, my friend Cosmin was sitting next to me. We engaged in discussions about the subconscious mind and how our mind reacts. We discussed the concept of 'what you think, you become,' and the idea of how people do things without thinking. At one point in our discussion, I turned to Him smiling, "Last night, I dreamed I was going to win first place at the U.S. Open." Without hesitation he turned to me replying, "Yes, it is possible." A decisiveness and resolution in his voice triggered me to think more seriously about my dream.

There were 53 countries competing at this international tournament that year. Upon arrival at the competition grounds, I was instantly feeling much strength, and I didn't quite understand where this boost was coming from. I was absorbing the atmosphere, scanning across the tatamis some fights taking place, and enjoying the mere energy rush when someone approached me to say "That guy over there from Brazil is very good!" I could hear these words, but they were just words. I did not care about what he was saying to me; I was feeling so good about myself as if nothing could touch me.

I started my competition. In the fourth round, I met the Brazilian guy, where I learned he was 2nd at the world junior championship and senior Pan-American champion; nothing stopped me from winning my fight with him at 7-2. 
After this winning, I moved on to the finals against Ecuador. He too, was very athletic, and excelled in his kicks. Knowing his strength, my attitude remained positive and I continued to be relaxed before the fight began. As I was enjoying my time, laughing with people around me, one of my coaches asked me, "What's your secret? How come you're so confident?! How come you have so much energy?!" My answer to him was: "I love what I do".

The finals began. Cosmin was watching and giving me tips. As I listened to his strategies, I contained my focus as well. Before the time limit was over, I had won the fight at a maximum score of 8-0. Here I was at the 2011 U.S. Open; I was not dreaming; I had won; I made it happen!!!

Among all the excitement in the crowd, I went to find my friend and I said to him, "thanks and yes, everything is possible."

I was feeling exhilarated—I could not contain my happiness.

Think and become...

Thx to Sandeep national coach for being next to me all my fights, to Kraig national coach helping me with my worming up and to all Canadians who encouraged me. You guys are awesome!