When Colton Brown lands in Tokyo subsequent week to compete within the Olympics, a lot will appear acquainted.
The skilled judoka who attended San Jose State College already has one Olympic competitors below his belt – the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. He is well-versed in Tokyo life, having lived there a short while to coach within the birthplace of judo. And he’ll be competing in a sport he is pursued since he was a child.
If something is not acquainted, it is the expertise he and everybody else have lived the final 15 months of the pandemic.
“What’s occurred up to now year-and-a half has ready us for something,” Brown mentioned throughout a digital interview from his residence in New Jersey. “The world shut down.”
However now that the world is opening up, no less than sufficient for the Tokyo Olympics to go ahead, with out audiences amid spiking COVID-19 charges, Colton is in his ultimate dash to metal himself for competitors. The lengthy hours, the lengthy years of sacrifice and dedication are quickly to be put to the final word take a look at.
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“I’ve been there earlier than,” Brown mentioned. “I do know what to anticipate. And I’m simply excited to get on the market and compete.”
Brown’s path into the world of judo started at residence together with his father, an skilled judo competitor who served as his son’s function mannequin and first coach. Brown’s journey finally took him to the far finish of the nation after he met a workforce of equally devoted opponents from San Jose’s prestigious judo program. He enrolled in San Jose State and located himself below the tutelage of legendary judo coach Yosh Uchida, who led the primary U.S. Olympic judo workforce in 1964.
“It was an excellent surroundings as a result of having a bunch of like-minded people like we had there, that have been coaching actually exhausting and likewise anticipated to do rather well in class, simply due to the judo custom there,” Brown mentioned.
Brown bonded with the college and the San Jose group – a cease on his journey he appears again on fondly. He remembers his time within the judo program as enjoyable however intense. Judo, he mentioned, teaches self-discipline and sacrifice. For him, the sacrifice entailed balancing the expectations of faculty and sport.
Although Brown did not medal within the 2016 Olympics, the expertise served as preparation for this summer time’s video games. Earlier than final summer time’s video games have been derailed by the pandemic, he felt he was in a very good place mentally and bodily. However because the world shut down, as a substitute of heading to the world’s greatest sporting spectacle, he discovered himself sitting at residence, separated from his fitness center and coaching routine for the primary time. In judo’s absence, he discovered realization.
“Whereas the pandemic was occurring and I used to be unable to coach or work out as a result of the whole lot was closed, it made me notice my love for judo,” Brown mentioned.
So, when the video games have been rescheduled to this summer time, and coaching and competitors as soon as once more resumed, Brown dove in like a person who’d misplaced, after which discovered one thing pricey. He re-upped his love of the game, the eagerness and maybe most significantly – the enjoyable.
“I’m now having probably the most enjoyable I’ve ever had,” Brown mentioned. “I’m in the very best place I’ve ever been mentally and bodily for this upcoming Olympics.”
In relation to the acquainted, it appears becoming Brown’s father Jeff is as soon as once more serving as his head coach. Just like the image of the Olympic rings, it is as if Brown’s life is stuffed with circles – circling again to the Olympics, circling again to Tokyo and again to the game he loves. In some methods, it took a worldwide pandemic to remind him what was at stake.
“When one thing actually essential is taken away from you, I don’t assume you notice how a lot it means to you till that occurs,” Brown mentioned.