—Every Medal Has A Story—
Silver -78kg & Gold Teams - World Championship WKC, 2005, Brazil
For the World Championship, three males and three females from each division are to be selected to represent the Romanian National Team. The federation would cover all traveling costs only for the athletes placing first. My heart was set on this competition—I wanted to compete and did not have the means to travel. My only option was to win selections.
Three weeks prior to selections for the Romanian National Team, an infection started on my right calf. The first day, the inflammation was small. Within three days, it had already spread to my lower thigh. I was no longer able to train, and I could not even walk. I started to feel as though the possibility of going to Worlds was out-of-the-question. At that point, all that I could anticipate was more panic and distressing thoughts.
I went to see a doctor. He immediately assured me not to worry. For a few moments, I felt as if a million tons were lifted off my shoulders and I thought to myself, "Maybe there's a chance. Maybe it's not such a big deal!"
The doctor asked me to lie down on the examining table as he left the room to speak to a nurse. The nurse returned and started to shave my leg. I asked her with an accelerated heart beat, "Am I going to have surgery?!" Her only response was, "The doctor is going to do his job." Negative thoughts started to fill my head. I was not at all comforted by her response. And, I only grew more apprehensive as she promptly injected a needle into my leg.
A few minutes later the doctor came in, he pulled up a chair and placed his hand on my leg. As my leg was numb from the anesthetic, I could not feel what he was doing. And, as I was lying face down, I could not see what he was doing. The doctor started talking to the nurse and I decidedly turned my head to find a big incision in my leg and a deep hole in my calf. He continued to assure me, "Don't worry! You'll be fine!" He bandaged my leg and sent me off, "Come back to see me in ten days and we will take out the stitches," he told me. I said to him, "But I have a competition in three weeks!" "I don't know about that!" he replied.
I left the hospital with even more bad thoughts than when I had arrived. I was hardly able to move physically and my spirits sunk so low. I felt as though my dream was already over. I could not go to work and I could not train. Taking a deep sigh, I started to think about my options.
Over the following days of recovery, I studied video recordings of karate fights and competitions; I watched, re-watched, and analyzed these recordings again and again for hours every day. Three weeks later, I was walking, the stitches had been removed, and I was going to selections.
At selections, the national coach of Romania planned for three days of training, followed by the fights. From Romania, the four highest ranked athletes were pre-selected; only one of the four could be sponsored by the federation to go to Worlds.
I did not tell my national coach about my injury; I was afraid he would automatically eliminate me. Although, given the evident state of my injury, I am quite certain he knew I was injured. My colleagues and teammates commended me for my courage and determination; they approached me awe-inspired as they saw the severity of my injury, "How can you train with such an injury?! You're crazy!" they said to me.
On selection day, I won all of my fights and I was selected to go to Worlds. I felt incredible; a thrill, a rush, an adrenaline gave me the motivation I needed to fulfill my dream and to give my best. Two months later would be the Worlds in Brazil. I still had some time to recover and to get back in-shape. During those two months, I continued to push myself harder everyday; I knew that I needed to do everything I could to strengthen my state of health. I trained at the club, at home, in the parks…
The more I trained the more I wanted to train. I wanted to make the federation proud; I wanted to show them that I was all and more than what they had selected.
Two months passed and I was on my way to Brazil. Settling into my seat on the airplane I took a deep breath saying to myself, "Thank you!" My trip to Brazil would be my first to visit another continent and tropical country
. Having arrived, I marvelled at the richness of such an animated culture; I tasted fruits and food like I had never tasted before; I relished in moments of pure pleasure on the warm washed beaches of Fortaleza, and rejoiced in the liveliness of the people and music. I was so excited to be there.
Competition day finally arrived. I competed in -78kg division as well as in teams, at last winning silver in the -78kg, and gold with my awesome team! Winning the medals was a great honor; they remind me of the reward for hard work...The entire journey was a reward in itself, as it allowed me to live out my dream!
Usually, I like to share a photo wearing a medal. However, at this competition I like to think about having a fun time after all the long and hard work.
I would like to thank the federation, FRK-WKC, for supporting our national team and athletes for all these years.