Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Brandon and Rich Marshall from the Olympics...Olympic Dreams

Brandon and Rich share their amazing experience.

Collision of Dream and Reality
Brandon and Rich and Brandon's
Olympic flag
Hanging in my room is an Olympic flag. My Uncle Scott gave me the flag as a reminder of why I work, train, and strive to be the best−on and off the mat. Through the years I have had the privilege of collecting signatures of Olympic wrestlers on this flag. Each night I close my eyes and dream about adding my signature someday. It would be an accomplishment beyond measure to sign that flag next to:

·         Rulon Gardner, who won Olympic gold in 2000 and bronze in 2004

·         Cael Sanderson, who won Olympic gold in 2004 and went undefeated four years
at Iowa State

·         Stephen Abas, who won Olympic silver in 2004 and was a three time NCAA
Division I champion

·         Jamill Kelly, who won Olympic silver in 2004

·         Dremiel Byers, who is a two-time U.S. Olympian

…and now Spenser Mango, another two-time U.S. Olympian.

So many names…there is not enough time to list them all. These are men that I admire for their character, spirit, and sportsmanship. Until now there has always been one dream that has seemed out of reach. 
Sitting in the Excel Center watching Greco-Roman wrestling I had one opportunity after another to meet and speak with Olympic greats. I was able to talk strategy with Kenny Monday, who won Olympic gold in 1988 and silver in 1992, and Dennis Hall, a 10-time U.S. national champion, world champion, and Olympic silver medalist in 1996.

I talked about college and my goals with Dan Gable, who won Olympic gold in 1972 and only lost one match in college! We reminisced about when he was my camp instructor at Camp of Champs along with these Olympians:

·         Ben Peterson, who won gold in 1972 and silver medal in 1976

·         John Peterson, who won silver in 1972 and gold in 1976

·         Barry Davis, who won silver in 1984

Kiki Kelley and Brandon
I met Christina “Kiki” Kelley, benefactor of the Kiki Cup, and we talked about her interest and involvement in wrestling. Each of these individuals was encouraging and offered their support and guidance as I continue to grow into this wonderful sport. They know that it is important to reach out to young athletes to keep that spirit alive in the United States. They represent the very best of the spirit of competition and mentorship. It was an overwhelming experience to be surrounded by so many greats in the sport.
The Russian Bear and Brandon
During a break in competition I went out to the open area for a breath of fresh air. There were big banners lining the walkway. One was of particular interest to me. It depicted Rulon Gardner and Aleksandr Karelin as they faced each other in the gold medal match in Sydney in 2000. As I posed for a picture next to the banner I recalled Karelin’s amazing history. He was undefeated in international competition for 13 years (1987-2000) and went six years without giving up one point. He won Olympic gold for Russia in 1988, 1992, and 1996. In September 2000 he faced Gardner and lost the match, marking his retirement from the sport. As long as I can remember I have dreamed of meeting the Russian Bear. I longed to see how I would measure up to the 6’3” master of the mat. As I started to walk away from the banner I heard a voice say, “I know him.” As I turned to go back to my seat, there he stood…Aleksandr Karelin. He pointed again at the banner and said, “I know him.” “Me too.” I replied. What more could I say? We spoke briefly and posed for the picture of my lifetime. Suddenly my dream was no longer out of reach.

As Victor Hugo wrote, “each man should frame his life so that at some future hour, fact and his dreaming meet.” The Olympics seems to be the ultimate clash of dreams and reality for so many. Some dream of gold, some dream of competition, some dream of opportunity…. all dream that their reality will be as good as they dream. In the future, when they ask who has signed my flag, someday I will respond again…… me too! Occasionally we find a moment in life that exceeds our expectations and dreams.