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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Penny Oleksiak edges Simone Manuel, Regan Smith sizzles again in Knoxville

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Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel nearly duplicated their Olympic gold-medal tie. The Canadian Oleksiak edged Manuel by .03 in the 100m freestyle at a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday night.

Oleksiak clocked 53.41 seconds, coming back from .37 behind Manuel at the 50-meter mark. The two tied for the Rio Olympic title in an Olympic record 52.70 seconds four years ago. Oleksiak was the surprise, a 16-year-old who came into the Games ranked eighth in the world for the year.

Since, Manuel swept the 2017 and 2019 World titles. Oleksiak was sixth at 2017 Worlds and withdrew before the 100m free at 2019 Worlds. She ranked 21st in the world last year. Oleksiak’s time Sunday was her fastest since 2017.

Full Knoxville meet results are here. The Pro Series’ next stop is Des Moines from March 4-7.

In other events Sunday, world-record holder Regan Smith won the 200m backstroke in 2:05.94, the fastest time ever outside of a national championships or major international meet. Smith, 17, achieved the same feat on Saturday in the 100m back, where she also broke the world record at last summer’s worlds.

Madisyn Cox won a matchup of the three fastest U.S. women in the 200m individual medley in 2019. She clocked 2:09.88, beating Alex Walsh by a half-second and Melanie Margalis by .54.

It was Cox’s fastest time since she took bronze at the 2017 World Championships. She missed the 2019 Worlds after failing a 2018 drug test over what she said was a contaminated multivitamin.

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Mikaela Shiffrin among favorites eliminated early in parallel giant slalom

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Mikaela Shiffrin was upset in the round of 16 of the first World Cup parallel giant slalom by unheralded Frenchwoman Clara Direz, who went on to earn her first win on Sunday.

Shiffrin had the fastest qualifying time but was bounced in the second round of head-to-head racing in Sestriere by Direz. Direz, 24, came into the day with a best career finish of seventh.

Direz was 16th-fastest in qualifying, 1.02 seconds behind Shiffrin combining times from two runs. Direz edged Shiffrin by .13 in their head-to-head run. Shiffrin appeared to be at a disadvantage being put on the red course, which produced just three winners among 20 one-run matchups.

“It is fun; I think I like the parallel GS actually more than the parallel slalom, but it’s a little bit difficult,” Shiffrin said. “I think there’s still a lot of work we have to do, and FIS [the International Ski Federation] has to do to really make the race as even as it can be because for sure you can see, there’s always a faster course. But today it’s like they’re not even the same course at all. Especially in the last four, five gates on the blue course, you can even see just looking up the hill that it’s straighter than the red course.

“Today I would say it’s a day where the luck [of which course you draw randomly] really plays a role.”

Direz eventually beat Austrian Elisa Moerzinger in the final. Direz was on the blue course for three of her four one-run rounds. Full results are here.

Higher-ranked racers used to be have their choice of courses in the parallel format.

“Maybe that wasn’t fair, either, but I think there must be a way to make it something that is more even, but at the same time, yeah, I don’t really have the answers on how to do that, either,” Shiffrin said. “It’s still in its infancy, this event.”

Shiffrin has a track record of success in parallel slaloms and similar city events, winning five of her last six starts. But the parallel GS proved problematic for the world’s best in slalom.

Swiss Wendy Holdener and Slovakian Petra Vlhova were also eliminated before the quarterfinals after being second- and third-fastest in qualifying. Holdener was also on the red course. Vlhova lost in the round of 32, when skiers were taking runs on both the blue and red courses.

Sestriere marked the last weekend of technical races (slaloms/giant slaloms) until mid-February. The next three weekends feature downhills and super-Gs. Shiffrin is expected to travel to Bansko, Bulgaria, for the first set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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