If you watched the 2012 Olympics you saw Kayla Harrison make history as she became the first American to take home Gold in Judo. Judo is more than a physical sport, it’s mentally challenging too. Kayla’s judo career has been, to say the least, very impressive and she’s got no plans to slow down anytime soon.
At age 6, Kayla started participating in judo and by her teens she was recognized as one of the top junior competitors in the nation! In 2003, 2004, and 2005 she won the Junior U.S Open and she was a two-time National Champion before she even turned 18. To add to her list of accomplishments, Kayla became the third American to win the Junior World Championships in 2009 and among other incredible shows of talent, she’s been on a world podium each year since 2008.
Kayla overcame personal struggles in her time as a champion, experiencing things that may have broken someone else; instead of allowing that to happen, she tapped into herself with discipline, courage, and the support of people who cared about her to boost her strength both on and off the mat.
Kayla doesn’t just use her medals and championships to inspire other young adults, she uses her story of sexual abuse (at the hands of her coach before she even turned 16) to show victims that they can overcome. She created the Fearless Foundation to help survivors become strong and empowered in every aspect of their own lives, lives that are hard to face after experiencing the tragedy of sexual abuse.
Kayla’s story is one of hope and we were lucky enough to find out more about her, through her own words, and her humble attitude after everything she has been through is perhaps her most impressive trait.
Update: Since this interview, Kayla set another record as she brought home gold again for Team USA – congratulations! Did you watch Kayla’s performance in Rio? Tweet us and let us know what you thought!