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Q&A With Olympian Brandon Slay

Brandon Slay Age:24 Age started wrestling: 6 College: Univ. of Pennsylvania What's your goal going into the Olympics? Other than a gold medal, I am focusing on keeping my priorities in order. God is first, other's are second, and myself is third in line. There is more to this than just the opportunity to wear a gold medal. The possibilities are infinite. A Texas state champ can't do the positive things that influence wrestling and children that an Olympic Champ can do. What international experience do you have that has prepared you for this event? A lot of people feel that because this is my first Olympics that I haven't competed internationally. I have actually been outside the country over 20 times. I placed in the top two or three several times in the worlds at the cadet and junior levels. I also was the champ at the Dan Kolav tourney and champ at the 5 Continents Cup. My coaches have told me that most American Olympic Medallists usually win the gold medals in their first Olympics. With all these things in mind, I am very confident heading into the games. After winning the Olympic trials, what would you say you learned the most from a competition/technical standpoint? From a mental standpoint? From a technical area, I know I can't hang out in the tie up and wait. I have to attack. That is when I am at my best when I am on the offense, stalking my opponent. From a mental standpoint, I am definitely much stronger than when I was younger. I realize that I need structure for pre-competition. Relax and recovery time is important to prepare myself mentally. I lie in bed every night and wrestle in the Olympic finals. Before a big match, what do you tell yourself to mentally reassure yourself that you're ready? I tell myself repeatedly that there is no way that I can be beaten or taken down. I know I have put in more time than any one else in my weight class. I have trained harder; therefore I rightfully should win. I tell myself the only thing that can prevent me from winning is myself by not performing to my potential. Who has been the biggest influence on you during your wrestling career? Why? My grandmother without a doubt. She pretty much raised me from the time of my parent's divorce. In this whole process of making the team, she (Dorothy Slay) has come first. The first five to six thousand I raised for Sydney went to my Grandma for her own trip to watch me wrestle. She always found a way to support me in my wrestling and travel. Even if it meant sacrificing and doing without, she always found a way and put me first before herself. How are preparations going for the Olympics? Are you doing anything different? Does this meet have a different feel about it? This is without a doubt the hardest training I have ever done. It has its good days and bad days. I view it as adversity and without adversity you can't maximize your performance. I honestly feel zero stress entering these Olympic games because of my faith in god. When you break it down to the bare bones, the Olympics is just like any other tournament I have entered. There are 20 guys in a tournament and we wrestle over a three day period. Essentially, I have done this before. What was the reaction back in your hometown? Have you been hearing from old friends? The reaction of my hometown Amarillo, Texas was and has been completely wonderful. There aren't many Olympians from that town, and it is a great wrestling city. The sport is very popular there and draws great crowds for matches. With all of the fan support of wrestling, everyone really was fired up for me. On July 3rd they had a Brandon Slay day. I had teachers from second and third grades call me and wish me luck. E-mails are always coming in. The other day I gotta stack of fan mail with 70 letters. It really is a dream come true and I am going to make everyone proud. What has wrestling taught you? How do you view the sport? Wrestling has taught me that there is nothing I will ever face in my life that is as hard and challenging as wrestling. I mean nothing. This is the absolute toughest sport and wrestling has directly made me strong inside and out. The strength I gain from wrestling will carry with me for the rest of my life. When you talk about the word drive, I feed off of that word. I want to have the drive to get to the top and never, ever quit anything I do in life. It's kind of like that old Johnny Cash song called "DRIVE". The lyrics say you gotta drive on. What do you think of the coaching staff assembled for the Olympics? Everyone I need is here, and I mean everyone. They WILL get me where I need to be. My college coaches, combined with the best four freestyle coaches in the world can only help me more. As a resident at the training center, Kevin Jackson has been a huge asset. I am basically a combination style of Brian Dolph and Kevin Jackson. Kevin refined my style when I got here and he is a huge reason why I made the team. What role does your family have in preparing you or supporting you as an athlete chasing your goals of being an Olympic Champion? My family puts no pressure on me at all to perform. But I know that the better I do the bigger the smiles on their faces. That really makes me happy and touches me. I also like knowing that when I made the team I affected people. I had a guy come up to me when I made the team and tell me how much happier of a person he was for me making it. If I can help someone or inspire someone to be a better person, raise their kids the right way, or get their kids in church, that is the real goal at hand. If I can affect people's lives, it is much more meaningful than winning a wrestling match at the Olympics. I also believe in fate on the mat. I would like to point out the numbers 6 and 24 in my life. I started wrestling at age 6, and I am 24 years old. We also had shirts made at the trials that said "Slay….6:24". When I won my last match to make the Olympics, my Aunt looked at the clock and the time was 6:24 PM. Something special is gonna happen in the Olympics at Sydney. *Visit Brandon at
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