I made it back safely from the World Games last week! I really enjoyed the event. The people of Cali, Columbia were awesome and very friendly. I ate some great traditional Columbian food and with our personal tour guide from the hotel, I learned some interesting facts about Cali.
I met up with my US Teammates, Cheryl Murphy, Brian Ramrup, Sakura Kokumai and Brandis Miyazaki, at the Houston Airport where our trek to the World Games began. After a short stop in Bogota, we made it to Cali in the early morning expecting to be at the hotel for some food and rest in just a few minutes. After at FOUR hour bus ride around Cali, we finally made it to our hotel. We were all starving and verging on cranky, but it was hard to be mad when kids and adults from around Cali were waiving and welcoming us to Columbia. The people were really excited to the see us in our Team USA uniforms and that made it cool for us too. When I got to the hotel, I found out I was rooming with Douglas Brose the World Champion from Brazil. That was a great twist to my trip and I enjoyed hanging out with Douglas, who later took a silver medal.
USA Team Coach Tommy Hood led us through some great practices in the days before the competition. It is always exciting to work with my teammates from across the USA once we arrive in-country at these international tournaments. Opening Ceremonies was awesome! Walking out into a stadium filled with 65,000 people screaming and celebrating, while representing my country....there is nothing like it! The World Games people did a great job kicking the event off with music and my favorite, fireworks! I do have to say, the best ceremonies I have been to were the Closing Ceremonies of the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011, but the World Games is a close 2nd place. We will have to see what Russia does for the World Combat Games later this year!
The competition didn’t go as I had hoped, but I am reminded this is an adventure and I have many years to play this game. I got a lot out of this trip and although I didn’t bring home any hardware….this time….I know this won’t be my last opportunity. I was able to get matches in with the highest-level athletes. It was good to see my international friends and competitors again. We fight hard in the ring, but there is definitely a friendship and respect there that I think is cool. Of course big congratulations to my USA Teammate Cheryl Murphy for winning the Bronze!
After the World Games, Brian Ramrup from New York and Brandis Miyazaki from Hawaii stayed with me in Texas for a few days. Taking a little Texas Vacation. They enjoyed a Texas Rangers win, some golfing, some time on the lake, some Texas BBQ and of course some shootin guns! It was a crash course in Texas for these guys. It was great having them in town. I hope y’all enjoyed yerself and had a good ol time. I love my US Team!