Sometimes I hate it when I have to take my own advice. If you have been following these, then you will know that this past Saturday I was competing at the US Open, in Las Vegas. You will also know that my last blog was about controlling things that I can, and forgetting the rest. I had to do just that this past Saturday.
Saturday started like any other competition day, and even better, I was feeling great! My warm up went well; I was visualizing and feeling confident. Unfortunately, the hosting committee decided to use brand new mats for their rings, and by new I mean they hadn’t even used the proper chemicals to remove the slick glossy coating on top. Yeah the rings look pretty, but this is a dangerous situation to be in, but I’ve dealt with this problem before, so I wasn’t worried. I struggled in my first match, because what I hadn’t counted on was the fact that this would be my first time fighting on slick mats since my tendon repair. Needless to say, “Ouch!” It seemed like every time I would slide, I would feel unstable and it would hurt. I pushed through it and beat Brazil, followed by a win over the Australian champ. At this point, it became sore enough that I got worried. I went back into medical and my long time friend, and “fixer” of broken bones, Dr. Trish, told me that it was extremely swollen and irritated. Now I came to a difficult choice. Do I risk re-injury after a year’s worth of rehab and keep fighting, or do I call it a day?
Other than touching on last week’s issues again, it is important as an athlete to take value in yourself. Don’t get me wrong, taking risks is the name of the game if you want to achieve your dreams, but being smart is just as important. Many of us get into these same situations and either play it too safe and miss out, or are too risky which leads to other problems. Unfortunately, I cannot give you sound advice for when you’re in these situations. You have to listen to your body, and nobody can or should make these decisions for you. Most importantly however, take responsibility and put value on your body and its physical and mental health! Sounds easy, but it won’t always be I can tell you that!
After talking with my parents, my coach and even my pastor I was able to narrow down my decision with a few questions to myself: What do you get if you win? Nothing, aside from bragging rights. Are there more important tournaments just around the corner? Yes, Nationals and the start of the Olympic trials process. Is there anyone here you need to fight? No, everyone in the division from this match on, I have already beaten.
When looking at those questions, the decision was clear. It wasn’t important enough, and there was nothing to gain by taking a risk. Would my decision have been different had I been fighting, say Olympic team trials? Without a doubt! This is what I mean when I say you have to take responsibility, value your health and your long term goals. Like I said before, you have to weigh this out for every situation,focus on the important things, and take the risks when you are willing to accept the damage to get the goal.
It seems like it’s nothing but topics on tough decisions the past couple of blogs, but I feel that this topic is important enough, and some athletes are stubborn enough, that I needed to touch on it. So take care of yourselves and remember to keep your eye on the “main” prize!
Several people asked me if I was upset about my decision. Initially, yes, but I didn’t lose a wink of sleep that night, because I knew it was the right decision.
Stay safe, and if you get stuck in this situation, remember to see the bigger picture!