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|Q&A With Olympian Sammie Henson|
By Andre Gibson USA Wrestling
Age started wrestling: 8
College: Clemson University
What's your goal going into the Olympics?
A Gold Medal. Period. I want to ELIMINATE and DOMINATE! What I mean by that is, I want to eliminate all mistakes and beat everyone by six or seven points.
What international experience do you have that has prepared you for this event?
The 98 world championships for starters. I have wrestled in every tourney and possible tour at least once since 1994. This is exactly the same; I have wrestled them all. It actually doesn't matter to me who they bring. My plan is still the same regardless.
After winning the Olympic trials, what would you say you learned the most from a competition/technical standpoint? From a mental standpoint?
In Vegas, I didn't have a good game plan. Looking back, I feel I wrestled just to win for the sake of winning. Basically, I wrestled to get the monkey off my back. 1999 was a tough year being defending world champ and being injured the whole time. I have learned that in the Olympics, I will have to wrestle technically smarter than in Vegas.
Before a big match, what do you tell yourself to mentally reassure yourself that you're ready?
That I'm the man! I need to hear that from myself and my coach. My coach will tell me I am the man, and I actually take that attitude into the match and believe it 100%. I pray to god to perform up to my abilities and I also ask him to help me with little technical stuff.
Who has been the biggest influence on you during your wrestling career? Why?
God. When my back has always been against the wall, he has spiritually pulled me through. I am very trusting in my relationship with god and know he is in my corner. From a human standpoint, I would say my father influenced me the most. Without my dad, (Robert) I wouldn't be who I am today.
How are preparations going for the Olympics? Are you doing anything different? Does this meet have a different feel about it?
As soon as the day of training camp arrived, I literally said to myself now is the time. I have stepped it up ever since I came here. Everyone at this level is basically a perfectionist including myself. I am working very hard to eliminate technical mistakes and turn it into perfection. Perfection equals a gold medal. Just like any tournament Andre, I won't be shy. I want to win this thing with all of my heart.
What was the reaction back in your hometown? Have you been hearing from old friends?
According to my dad back home in St. Louis, the media coverage has been real good. I have really gotten a lot of phone calls from friends and family alike.
What has wrestling taught you? How do you view the sport?
That's a good question. Definitely, wrestling has taught me to be a man. It has shown me how to be the best person I can be as well. Without wrestling, who knows where I would be or what I would have become? I owe my life to the sport of wrestling.
What do you think of the coaching staff assembled for the Olympics?
Without a doubt, this is the best coaching staff in the whole world. All three co-head coaches including Bruce Burnett have helped me tremendously. They really motivate me when I am surrounded by all of their knowledge and skill.
What role does your family have in preparing you or supporting you as an athlete chasing your goals of being an Olympic Champion?
They are living the dream with me. My wife Stephanie and son Jackson who is 13 months have both been with me the whole time. My mom and dad (Shubert & Robert) are going along to Sydney. Even my older brother has helped me in my training. We ran the track a few weeks ago when I probable didn't need to. But I did anyway. Why? Cause that's my older brother and I am going to do what he says!