Every Medal Has A Story

National Championships 1998 -Bucharest, Romania, WKF—75kg, Seniors


One month before the National Championships, I qualified at Regionals assecond place out of two available spots. I was 18 years old and it would bemy first year competing in the senior division. I had already been admiringone of the senior athletes who went by the nickname *Roscatu*, meaning
*redhead*. He was national champion the year before, and I very much lookedup to him especially for his strong sweeps and ambition.

In the month leading up to Nationals I was very keen in my preparation bothphysically and more so mentally. I repeatedly visualized and practiced amotion of myself winning; I visualized that I was beating Roscatu in tournament and winning first place. And, in practice I motioned-out amovement—a gesture with my fist—of what I thought it would feel like andlook like to win. Even though the likelihood of actually beating Roscatuseemed unrealistic with his amazing results and high-standing, I didn’t letthat stop me from imagining and believing in the possibility. I said tomyself “I’m going to have fun anyway! And, why not practice my imaginarymovement that I’m winning the final?!”

The year before the National Championships, I went to Roscatu’s city to dosome sparring with him at his club. I remember when he swept me sovigorously in mid-air I was admiring the sweep thinking, “Wow, this guy isreally good!” Roscatu was an example to me, and I felt privileged that Ihad an opportunity to practice some rounds with him. Although I very muchlooked up to him, I had doubted myself in that I did not think I was goodenough. At that time, many coaches, teammates and athletes approached mesaying,“Believe in yourself, Sorin! Have confidence! You’re better than youthink!” But I did not know what all that really meant. Only until I beganvisualizing myself performing my best techniques and winning, and until Ibegan practicing my gesture of winning did I begin to understand whatconfidence and believing in myself meant.

The National Championships arrived on a very sunny spring day. After a goodstart, I won my first two fights. My third fight unexpectedly paired me upagainst Roscatu; he was right there … standing in front of me … ready to fight. Before the fight began I told myself that if I won I would motion mygesture of winning. Right off the bat, the fight opened with quick actionand abrupt moves. Roscatu was very aggressive, throwing his every move at me. He seemed to give me no chance to attack back. From punches to sweepshe kept coming at me non-stop. By the second half of the fight, I grabbed amoment in good timing with a kick to his head, from which I won two points;it was then that I found a bit of courage to keep going, and I repeated tomyself, “I can do this. I can do this!” As the fight continued I noticedRoscatu’s facial expression change; he began to look nervous and agitated, and he grew even more aggressive. I tried to keep my distance and use mystrategy and technique to block myself and stop him from scoring on me. Ourmomentum only increased in power and speed, and I could feel the energy ofthe crowd from around us intensify. Finally, when the referee called,
“Match over!” I knew I made it to the finals as I motioned my gesture ofwinning with a great wave of strength. I went to hug my coach, MihaelaIorga. I felt so happy, and my adrenaline was so high that I didn’t even
know what to say. We started to laugh together. I could not believe that Ihad just beat Roscatu, last year’s champion, whom I looked up to! My coachsaid to me, “You did great, Sorin! Now stay focused for the final match!”

As the final match began, I realized that just moments ago I had surpassedone of my hardest challenges of the competition. The finals thereforeseemed to be less tense than my previous fight. I started to feel a certain confidence of dominating the tatami, allowing me to feel the place that Iearned. And I did just that: As the referee blew the final whistle I didnot hesitate to bow into my gesture of winning; after all, I had beenpracticing it for one month! I earned first place winning the gold medal atthe National Championships, and now made it onto the Senior National Team of Romania.

What I learned from this competition that helped me in my life:

1. Believe in myself and what confidence means.

2. Be bigger than my limits.

3. Don’t be afraid to dream big.

I want to thank Roscatu for being a positive example to me, for helping me
become stronger because of his inspiration.

— — —

Now that you have read my story, take a few moments to ask yourself what itmight be like for you to accomplish one of your dreams or a goal: How doyou think you will react when you accomplish your goal?; How are you goingto celebrate?; How are you going to feel?; Are you going to give hugs toeveryone, like I do?;  Are you going to pat yourself on the back and say toyourself, “Good job!”? Are you going to write a story or a book to inspireothers? What will your body-language be?…Just imagine how it might be for
you to accomplish your goal.