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U.S. National Wrestling Championships press conference, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nev.



Larry Barnson, LVSC President: "I'd like to thank all of you for coming here today. I'd like to thank the MGM Grand for being a gracious host for this tournament. It's been a long time coming to get this event here. We've hosted this tournament in Las Vegas for 12 years and it's been a great treat for us to be able to move it here to the MGM Grand Hotel. The tournament is our National Championships, and it is one that we are real proud of. We are wanting to make it even better. That is why we made this move to here." Rulon Gardner, 2000 Greco-Roman Olympic Champion: "Things I look forward to this weekend are to go out there and wrestle a high level of intensity and do my best with the conditioning that I have now. I think I am in pretty good shape. I feel that my technique is where it needs to be. I need a little fine tuning but I hope and pray that I've worked hard enough in this past month, since I have been off this little media tour, to get back in shape that I need to be to be successful." "My concentration level, well, I've been on the road since September 7th. Up until a month ago, I have been at home for less than 15 days. I've been on a little media circuit, I guess they call it the banquet circuit. I've been getting my concentration back. People have been wondering why I would want to continue wrestling.Maybe I had accomplished the ultimate high. I think, I still have a lot of dreams and goals and aspirations personally to accomplish something better than I have accomplished before. I may not ever win another Olympic gold medal or another World Championship, but I'll go out there and feel successful inside myself, to have a chance to do my best. If I never win again, I'll know I went out there and accomplished a goal inside my heart. That's the most important thing for me, to feel that I've done my best every day." Kristie Marano, 2000 Women's World Champion: "I came off my World Championship win and didn't have much time for taking off because I had to practice and prepare for the wrestle-off that I had. After the wrestle-off, I had an injury. I've been trying to recover from that. I came back about a month ago. I'm trying to get back to where I was. I'm doing the best that I can, working out. "Mentally I know that I am injured, but, I'm going to try to overcome that and just work around it. I've been practicing hard." Dominic Black, 1999 World Freestyle Team member "The preparation for coming back was not that big a deal. We've been doing that for so long, this is what we do. My focus has changed. I knew I had to strengthen my lower body and get my knee rehabbed, and make sure it was strong enough so I could get back to the number one spot, where I was before, and prepare myself to win. Other than that, my preparation for this was to get back to the basics, the things I do well, and strengthening my body and refining my technique, and doing all the things I do well in training. Mark Scott, USA Wrestling Director of National Events "On behalf of USA Wrestling, I would like to thank the press for being here today. It's exciting for us to be at the MGM Grand, with one of our premier events, our national championships, our Greco-Roman, our freestyle, our Veterans and our women's, to a venue of the MGM's magitude. It's well known across the country. It is a tribute to our sport to bring this event here. We are excited about what is going to happen over the two days. You will see some of the best athletes USA Wrestling has ever had, like Dominic and Kristie and Rulon. You will see them compete in one of the most pure sports that there is. Some of you may have seen the Olympics and the dedication that these athletes have. You will have a real treat, watching some of the best athletes in the world competing here at the MGM Grand. It is a tribute to Larry Barnson and his staff, which helps put this event together, and showcase our sport. This is what USA Wrestling is about, to provide these opportunities for these athletes to achieve their human potential in a sport that they have loved their entire lives. We hope you will join us and be here. "These athletes are trying to make our World team, and compete in New York City at the World Championships in Madison Square Garden. That will be September 26-29. So this is actually their first step in achieving that goal. The World Championships are actually larger than the Olympic Games, because at the Olympic Games there is a cap on the number of athletes that can be there. So we don't get every country. At the World Championships, every country has the opportunity to bring a team. It is actually tougher. These athletes here will take the next step to that, which takes them on to Cincinnati, and the final team will be picked there. We are excited about New York. The world will come to New York to see these athletes collide. It will be an exciting experience and we hope you will join us. Again, this is a big tribute to the MGM Grand, and we thank them for their support."
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