This week has been an unbelievable experience. The past 6 months of intense training has culminated in a spectacular showing of focus, perseverance, and dominance from all the ladies on the team. The first few days in Fort Lauderdale were filled with nerves and excitement for the fights to come.
After learning of the lack of participants in my division at AAU, I was faced with the decision to either accept a guaranteed Gold medal handed to me just for showing up as the only fighter in the Flyweight division, or forfeit my Gold, and join the heavy weight division, which was the only other red belt division with participants, and try my skills against ladies 55-90 pounds heavier than myself. After reflecting on all the hard work and training that I had put in, and with Nathan's support, I quickly decided that I had come to fight, and simply being handed the Gold would not have been a satisfying victory.
I must admit the night before the fight was filled with a rage of nerves which were slightly subsided by strategically planning for the fights. I knew that I would have to fight defensively and capitalize on my advantages of speed and endurance to get me through the power and height advantages of my opponents. Fortunately, this worked in my favor. My first fight was against a very large 200 lb female, who was much slower than me, and I was able to get in and score without her countering and won the fight 10-3.
The second fight was a much tougher experience. The girl had a significant height advantage, and after watching my first match, she was going for my head every time. I knew she was coming, so I mostly stayed on the defense, and tried countering her kicks to the backside, however I wasn't getting points for my efforts. After she landed 2 head kicks on me (2 pts each), I was down 4-0, and getting extremely frustrated. Nathan yelled to me that I only had 30 seconds left in the match, and I knew that I had to go big. Realizing that fighting defensively wasn't working, I decided to go in and attack, and leave it all on the mat. I was either going to lose standing there trying to evade her kicks or lose fighting with everything I had. The next 20 seconds of the fight was a whirl wind, I threw as many kicks as I could, and finally peeked at the score to see a score of 8-5, it was such a significant change in score from the last time I looked when it was 4-0, for a second I couldn't remember what color I was fighting to know who was winning, and if I should go back in and keep kicking. Luckily I quickly realized I was miraculously ahead, and I just needed to ride out the last 5 seconds for the Gold. I don't think my opponent knew what had just happened, she thought she had the Gold in her pocket, my attack was completely unexpected and she was too exhausted to defend. Needless to say the victory was exhilarating.
With only a day of rest between AAU and USAT, we were all a little sore and bruised going into USAT. After my AAU experience, I was excited to fight an opponent my own size. At USAT they use electronic chest protectors for scoring, which we had never used before, so I was a little nervous about the new equipment. My opponent was from Alaska, and she was a few inches shorter than me, so my plan was to go for the head. The fight was a much faster pace than the AAU fights, however I was able maintain my endurance and speed, and came out with a victory of 9-2, landing 2 head kicks to help get me the win.
The entire trip has been an amazing experience, something I will cherish forever. The support from Nathan and my teammates has been remarkable, they will always be apart of me. We now look forward to watching Nathan bring home a Gold, accompanied by a seat at the Olympic Trials, tomorrow!