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Q&A With Olympian Kevin Bracken



Kevin Bracken Age: 28 Age started wrestling:12 College: Illinois state University What's your goal going into the Olympics? Is this a trick question? What international experience do you have that has prepared you for this event? This past season I competed in France, Sweden, Cuba and Russia. I feel that my international experience will play a big part in winning gold in Sydney. It has given me a chance to scout my opponents and have a feel for how the referees will call the matches. How was your trip to Poddoubny, Russia? What did you learn? The tournament was very quality. I wrestled former World Champion Nicoli Monov from Russia my first match. The Russian took a controversial 4-3 victory. Our last meeting I came out ahead 7-6. My turn next. What I learned is that I have to completely take the referees out of the equation and out-wrestle my opponents times two. At the Olympics I can not make mistakes that will be capitalized upon and open the door for my opponents. Before a big match, what do you tell yourself to mentally reassure yourself that you're ready? I tell myself that "I am the best". Just before the match I review my technique in my head. I tell myself I am going to get him as tired as he has ever been and score points. Who has been the biggest influence on you during your wrestling career? Why? My career has been influenced by many life long friends. To name a few would not be fair to a career of endless help. If I had to choose one person Ike Anderson (national developmental coach) has made a great impact on my success within the past two years. If I had to define what support an athlete need to be successful I would describe my family. Their influence has made me who I am. How are preparations going for the Olympics? Are you doing anything different? Does this meet have a different feel about it? I am right on track for the Games. We had a great camp in Colorado Springs it was really challenging exactly what I needed. Other than the camp having a wider verity of people to train with, I have been sticking to my plan that Steve Fraser (National Team Coach), Anatoly Petroian (OTC Resident Coach), Ike Anderson (my personal coach) and myself have devised. In short the seasons goal is to win an Olympic Gold metal. What was the reaction back in your hometown? Have you been hearing from old friends? There was an unbelievable response from my hometown (Chicago). My friends and family threw a party for me called the "go for the gold rally". The proceeds benefited a scholarship fund at my high school. It was a great chance give back to my roots and help a kid in my community. There were about 1,200 people who attend. It was amazing to see old friends and to meet people that had only stopped by to wish me luck. Check out my web site www.kevinbracken.com pick up a t-shirt or poster. What has wrestling taught you? How do you view the sport? Wrestling has taught me what it is to be alive. I feel that it is one of the last "true sports". In our sub-culture we understand what it take to not only be a champion but how hard it is to just remain in the middle of the pack. Any former wrestler even if they have only competed in high school is always proud to testify to his experience. I feel this is derived from being involved in one of the toughest sports there is. I know of no wrestler who signed up for the money. We do it for the love of the sport. The raw purity of the concept. The battle and sprit of the fight that make life's mishaps seam to be nothing in comparison to the dedication and discipline required. Possibly, one-day wrestlers will be collectively viewed as "superstars" by the general public. Until that day comes I will take pride in being a part of the last "true sport". What do you think of the coaching staff assembled for the Olympics? Our coaching staff has dedicated their lives to wrestling. I am confident that our staff will do everything in their power to create champions at the Olympics.
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