Most of you know or have seen Annie Shiraishi around the dojo. An active competitor and representative of EBJI, Annie has been pursuing her Olympic dream since being named an Alternate to the 2008 Olympic Judo Team. She has dedicated the past 4 years to training and travelling in an effort to make the 2012 London Olympic Team. This past weekend Annie competed in Montreal, Canada at the Pan American Judo Championships. Her thoughts on the tournament and her 4 year journey are below.
This weekend was the Pan American Championships in Montreal, Canada. This tournament marked the end of the 2012 Olympic Qualifications. I went into the tournament prepared to give everything I had and to go out fighting. Qualifying wasn’t completely out of my reach, (difficult, but not impossible). I, however, fell short. I placed 5th for the second year in a row (losing in the semi-finals and then again in for the bronze medal).
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely disappointed, frustrated and in a state of disbelief.
For the past 4 years I’ve dedicated my entire life to Judo. I went to weight training 4 days a week (45-minutes away from my house), was on the mat 4-6 times a week (2 hour sessions), and practically lived at 24 Hour running. My entire day revolved around my training schedule. (Wake up, go to the gym, go home and eat breakfast, lifting practice, go home and eat lunch, take a nap, judo practice, go home and eat dinner, sleep. Repeat the next day). Now that this run is officially over, reality is starting to sink in; I have to grow up and start being a contributing adult to society.
Throughout my 4 year journey, I had a lot of highs and lows emotionally, mentally and physically. There were times where I wanted to pack my bags up and give up. I lost focus on what was important; my goal, my dream. Thanks to my entire support system, I was always guided back in the right direction. I put my heart and soul into my judo because I was given great advice a couple years ago. “Even though it feels like there’s a lot of time left until qualifications, it’s going to come a lot faster than you think. And at the end, you don’t want to have any regrets. You will never live it down if you regret not putting in the time and effort.” (Thank you, Sayaka) Now that the time has come, I don’t have any regrets that were in my control. The only thing I wish I could change, was that I started competing and training internationally a lot sooner. I wish I had the time to develop without the time constraint. But, I’ve come a long way.
I want to thank everyone that’s supported me one way or another. Family, coaches, friends, sponsors, EVERYONE. I am forever in your debt for putting up with all my crap throughout the years. Your help, guidance and support has meant the world to me. I just hope that I’ve done enough to make you proud of my accomplishments (even though I fell short). I worked my tail off not only for myself, but for each and every one of you.
Now the big questions… is my Judo Journey over?
We are all lucky to witness Annie’s journey and see her grow into a talented judo player. We hope that she’ll continue to contribute to the sport and our dojo, as she has so many things to offer us.