PREAMBLE: Christopher George is an Olympic judoka from Trinidad and Tobago. His MAKEACHAMP campaign caused a huge media commotion back home in Trinidad. His campaign has close to a 1000 likes and has reached 16,000 people.
So where do I start my story?....
Before becoming an Olympian, nobody at the Trinidad and Tobago Judo Federation even knew how to qualify for the olympics. I was met with question marks and blank faces. I had to find out on my own. So, I did my homework, and now I am a one-of-a-kind judo Olympian in Trinidad and Tobago. Judo doesn't share the limelight with athletics here. Yet, here I am training as hard as ever, with a very popular MAKEACHAMP campaign, and honoured to be part of Team Trinidad and Tobago.
Financial issues are not new to me. Before judo, I was a water polo player for 12 years. I was more in a pool than on a tatami. Yet, as the captain of the national water polo team, I realized how problematic financing the team was and how little funding we were getting. Our goal of Olympic qualification in 2012 sadly didn't come to fruition. I then left water polo and channeled my energy into judo. Although the Elite Athlete of Trinidad provides me with funding, it is not sufficient on its own which is why I came to MAKEACHAMP. My MAKEACHAMP campaign has been of huge help and has promoted me immensely on different media levels.
On top of all that, I was an engineer by profession and I spent much time working in Scotland. I was fortunate to be able to train and compete in Aberdeen and the north of England with a very strong group of British judokas. I had the pleasure to take part in the commonwealth games and this galvanized me to take my judo further. I won the national title as a yellow belt in Trinidad and last year I gave up my job as an engineer to concentrate fully on making it to the Rio Olympics.
I didn't get where I am now without a hard training regimen and a fantastic coach. I have been blessed to train with Jason Morris who is an olympic silver medalist from the USA. He drills me with hundreds of repetitions and his particularity with technique has seen me make huge strides. It is no coincidence that other highly rated judoka practice with Jason (eg. Hannah Martin, Quinton Cook, Bradford Bolen and Kyle Vascalin). This training and hard work has helped me get to 78th in the world but I know that once you walk onto the tatami in Rio ranking means nothing.
A photo posted by Christopher George (@christrinig) on
I can already visualize my first olympic fight, I have thought about it before. I have to act as the favorite and impose my will without fear. Whoever is in front of me has to feel my strength. I don't feel pressure, on the contrary I revel in it and I am going to absorb that energy and bring it onto the tatami. I need to win two matches and I am into medal contention, so things can move quickly.
Judo has brought me so much that after everything is all said and done I have to give back to the sports community. My biggest challenge when I first started was that I had to accept that I was not the best judoka - I had to face reality head on. What is important for every athlete is to not delude yourself and focus on what needs to be done, this will help you push past any frustration.