It is the morning of my big day, my first sponsored international tournament. I eat my breakfast, but I feel uneasy. What’s wrong with me? Why does my stomach feel so uneasy; I’ve done this thousands of times and it’s no different than any other tournament? To my surprise, I throw up; I want to cry because I know that throwing up the morning of a tournament causes you to lose strength. When I look up, my whole team is watching me. Embarrassed, I silently clean up and leave. Later, I meet them at the tournament; as I’m walking by, I hear people saying “Are you ok?” and “Don’t be nervous.” I become angry; angry that everyone could see my weakness, angry that I let myself show weakness, and most of all, angry that everyone noticed. This is my time to shine, to show people I am no longer a scrub; the day people would see me as an international-level fighter.
I start warming up; I feel good, like I didn’t throw up. I start smiling and gain confidence. Today, I will show everyone that I am one of the strongest on the team, and I will prove to them I’m not some rookie who doesn’t belong on the team. The coaches gather the team, and we start kicking paddles. All of them look at me with surprise. They see that I am kicking strong.
It is my turn to fight; I walk into the arena with my coach and sit down. I am nervous, my hands begin to sweat, and I feel like I deluded myself into thinking I am the best. Then, my mom comes up from behind me and reminds me, “Alex, you’re one of the best in the USA. You can take any of these fighters.” My muscles loosen. I am ready to win. Walking into the ring, I realize they’re using the new electronic chest-guards. My heart sinks. Can I score on these? Will I lose because I am unable to score? My heart races for a minute. I’m scared, but I remind myself I can score to the head. I relax.
In the first round I can’t score on the new chest-guards, and my chances of winning slip away. Second round, I go to the head more. I hit him; feeling great, I know I can win the fight. Amazingly, I win the match. Surprised at my success, I walk back thinking, I proved to everyone that I am no longer an inexperienced fighter: I am an international-caliber fighter!
This experience proved that with enough willpower anything can happen. It taught me that pushing myself to the limit will make my goals achievable. The inspiration this fight gave me brought me to the 2010 Junior World Championships and still helps me push myself to the limit as a work toward the ultimate goal, the Olympics. The confidence gained in this fight travels with me as I continue competing in competitions all over the world.
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