This yearís Olympics have been filled with so many memorable moments. Michael Phelps achieved the status of the most decorated Olympian. Andy Murray won the gold after defeating Roger Federer, the reigning world champion. Bolt ran an amazing time, breaking the world record. In fact, tons of swimming world records that many thought would be unachievable without the special swimsuits were broken.
Yes, this has been a very exciting Olympics. I couldnít ever imagine competing at that level.
Could you imagine competing in front of the world? In front of the leader of your country?
And what if the leader of your country is an avid practitioner of that sport?
And the person standing across from you is the defending champion?
The pressure would be immense, beyond any other experience imaginable.
And thatís exactly what 28-year-old Russian Tagir Khaibulaev faced when he stepped into the circle for the 100kg Menís Judo. Russian president Vladimir Putin, is a known avid Martial Artist. He started learning sambo in 6th grade and then move onto judo. Heís co-authored a book on Judo and currently holds his 6th dan black belt. Heís won championships and even got a chance to showoff his skills at a state visit to Japan.
So you can imagine the pressure on Khaibulaev with having this International opportunity to represent his country in front of such a decorated member of the sport and leader of his country.
The honor of winning the gold in such a situation is an accomplishment of a life time.
And thatís exactly what Tagir did.
Though, maybe it shouldnít have come as such a surprise. Khaibulaev was going to the even as the favorite having won the World Championships last year. According to judoinside.com, he has been competing on the national, regional, and international level for well over 8-years with a variety of medal placements.
Heís not alone either. Russia came out with a vengeance this year in Judo, taking home 3 gold, a silver, and a bronze. This is the first time theyíve won medals in this sport since the 1980 Moscow games and so far the sport with the most gold counts.
In fact, the first gold medal that the Russian took home this Olympics was from Arsen Galstyan in the 60kg Menís Judo. In true sportsman like style, Galstyan dedicated his medal to all those suffering from the flood back home in Russiaís Krasnodar Region earlier in July.
The second gold for Russia came from Mansur Isaev in the 73kg Menís Judo. In his pursuit of gold, he actually beat both the worldís first and second seat.
But the match of the Games still has to be Khaibulaevís where Putin had personally showed up and was in the stands to witness his country win their 3rd gold in a sport he loves.
Now if that isnít pressure and great honor... definitions of a great warrior, I donít know what is.