Kayla Harrison earned the first Olympic judo gold medal in United States history. The judo gold medalist trained both physically and mentally, working to enhance both her fighting abilities and to overcome the years of sexual abuse she endured as a child by her former coach.
Kayla Harrison defeated British judo fighter Gemma Gibbons to bring home the gold for America, the Daily Mail reports. Unable to control her emotions, Kayla Harrison wept with pride and joy as the first note of the National Anthem was played in her honor.
Judo champ Kayal Harrison, 22, publicly revealed her inner struggle with childhood sexual assault after witnessing Joe Paterno supporters on television. In 2007, the aspiring judo athlete from Middletown, Ohio helped prosecutors put her former coach behind bars.
Kayla Harrison’s childhood judo coach, Daniel Doyle, plead guilty to sexual abuse and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The judo gold medalist’s mother had taken her to a local sports center so she could learn how to protect herself when she was just eight.
“I was almost disheartened by my country, to hear that kids at Penn State we protesting for Paterno but not for the victims. What kind of world do I live in? Are students really doing that? When that happened, when the victim was that far away from people’s minds, I was in shock,” Kayla Harrison stated during an interview with Fox Sports.
Kayla Harrison ran away from home when she was 16 to a town in the Boston area to chase her dream of becoming an Olympic judo wrestler. Harrison studied the sport she loves under the United State’s only four-time judo Olympian, Jimmy Pedro, USA Today notes.
Today Kayla Harrison showcased both her extreme physical abilities and her mental strength to overcome the tragic years of sexual abuse as a child. The judo gold medalist is now a happily married woman and recently joined the fire department so she could help others in her Boston area community.