Brian Olson, Three-Time Olympian in Judo

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by Faye Rapoport


Brian Olson is a three-time Olympian in Judo who has one goal for the Athens games: winning the gold medal. The short list of his accomplishments includes being the 2002 Hungarian Cup bronze medalist, the gold medal winner at the 2001 British Open, the seventh place finisher at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, bronze medalist at the 1997 World Judo Championships, a five-time U.S. National Champion and the 1999 Pan American Champion.

In all, Olson has more than 22 years of experience in judo competition and coaching, including 14 years on the U.S. National Team. He is currently the number 1 ranked U.S. athlete at 90kg and is team captain of the U.S. Olympic Training Center Judo team.

Founded in 1882 by Dr. Jigoro Kano, Judo is a refinement of the ancient Japanese martial art of Jujutsu. Dr. Kano, President of the University of Education, Tokyo, studied the ancient forms and integrated what he considered to be the best of their techniques into what is now the modern sport of Judo. Judo was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1964 and is practiced by millions of people throughout the world today.

Judo is best known for its spectacular throwing techniques but also includes ground grappling with choking and joint locking techniques.

As President and Chief Instructor of the Boulder Judo Training Center in Colorado, Olson not only dedicates his life to training in order to become the best judo athlete in the world, he also runs a world-class training facility for others. He is currently one of the most recognized names in the judo world as both an athlete and a coach.

Just before participating in the Athens games, Olson answered some questions for did you get started in judo?

Olson: My father started me at the age of six. My dad was in the army stationed in Korea. He saw judo there. He never did it, but he always liked everything about judo. There happened to be a judo club about mile from my house so he put me and my brother in it for something to do during the summer and things just went from there. What is it about judo that appeals to you, as opposed to other martial arts? How does it differ from Tae Kwan Do, for example?

Olson: Judo appeals to me because it is an overall sport. There is no striking or kicking in judo and that is how it differs from other martial arts. In judo you use every part of your body and every point of the match. What is the difference between sports martial arts and those that don’t include competition?

Olson: I think it is controlled and exciting. They make it exciting for the spectator by making the matches exciting. If there is nothing going on, penalties are awarded which affect the match. You’ve already competed in two Olympics. What was that like?

Olson: Unreal. Atlanta was awesome because it was so close to home for me, and all my family was there in force. Sydney was incredible. They did such a great job making us feel at home and judo was sold out, so everyday was a completely new energy that just took over you. What are your goals at the Athens games?

Olson: Gold. Do you train in bare feet for judo?

Olson: Yes, we do train in our bare feet for judo. What kind of foot injuries do you have to watch out for?

Olson: All injuries really, but knees are probably the worst. Have you had any foot injuries that have affected your training?

Olson: I have flat feet, so I had to get special inserts for my shoes. Do you have any kind of general foot care regimen to keep your feet healthy?

Olson: Foot massages are a necessity for me on my arches. What are your plans after the Olympics?

Olson: Vacation, for sure! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, and good luck in Athens!

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