Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey recalls World Judo Championships adversity, post-Olympic binging in new book

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Ronda Rousey, the UFC champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist judoka, detailed extreme experiences at the 2007 World Judo Championships and developing a “pot-and-Vicodin habit” after the Beijing 2008 Games in reports quoting her book, “My Fight/Your Fight,” to be released Tuesday.

Before rising to stardom as a UFC fighter, Rousey competed in judo at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She took her first global championship medal, a silver, at the 2007 Worlds in Rio de Janeiro.

Rousey detailed her experience in Rio in an explicit book excerpt published by Jezebel:

“I woke up ready to kill somebody,” Rousey wrote.

She went on to recall having to lose one pound to make weight on the morning of weigh-ins and competition, and then each of her fights, including in the quarterfinals against Brazilian Mayra Aguiar, the biggest rival to 2012 U.S. Olympic champion Kayla Harrison.

“The arena had been steadily filling up and was now closing in on three-quarters full,” Rousey wrote, according to Jezebel. “In contrast to the Japanese fans with their cheer coordinator, the Brazilian fans were the complete opposite. Unadulterated pandemonium. The Brazilians were the craziest, most passionate crowd I had ever experienced. They were blaring blow horns and flying flags. One section was covered by a massive Brazilian flag the fans were holding up.

“They booed me as I walked onto the mat, chanting ‘You’re gonna die’ in Portuguese. I noted the noise, assessing the impact it might have on the referees. I was going to have to win more definitively. Up against the roar of the crowd, I took her to the mat and pinned her for ippon with thirty seconds left on the clock. The Brazilian fans booed me viciously as I walked off the mat.”

Rousey went on to write that one of her elbows was dislocated by a semifinal opponent, whom Rousey ended up beating before losing to France’s Gevrise Emane in the final.

“The world championship had slipped through my fingers,” Rousey wrote, according to Jezebel. “Every time I closed my eyes, even to blink, I saw Émane throwing her arms in the air in jubilation. I had no one to blame but myself. I had let it come down to points. I had failed. It hurt to breathe.

“After the competition had ended for the day, I walked up into the stands where the crowd had been cheering for me so loudly hours before. I had to call my mom back home, but I couldn’t do it yet. Making that call would require finding the strength to say: I lost. My gut twisted. I climbed to the very top of the seats. The arena was nearly empty. I settled myself at the end of a row of seats, up against a corner, pulled my knees up to my chest, and cried harder than I ever had since Dad died.”

The next year, Rousey fell in the Olympic quarterfinals to the same opponent who she said dislocated her elbow in the Worlds semis — the Netherlands’ Edith Bosch.

Rousey advanced through the repechage to earn bronze in Beijing.

Afterward, she wanted a year off “to party,” she wrote, according to the New York Post, which reported Rousey “began smoking and drinking heavily, often beginning her day with a cigarette and a vodka espresso. She developed a pot-and-Vicodin habit.”

Rousey eventually quit judo under less-than-ideal circumstances before she took up mixed martial arts and became the dominant champion she is today.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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