Alejandro Sancho grew up competing in judo in Miami’s vibrant Cuban-American judo and wrestling scene. Nonetheless, he thought-about it merely cross-training for his true sport calling: turning into a professional basketball star. A highschool coach helped this Spud Webb-sized athlete see the sunshine, and ever since, Sancho says, “Wrestling is my life.”

The US Military helped Sancho flip that life right into a dwelling, convincing him to place his felony justice diploma to work as a navy police officer specialist (SPC) whereas competing internationally for the Military’s World-Class Athlete Program (WCAP). The selection paid off when he defeated fellow WCAP member Sgt. Ellis Coleman to qualify for his first Olympic Video games at age 27.

Earlier than leaving for Tokyo, Sancho advised about his journey to search out the best weight class, and the way he virtually sabotaged his Olympic goals by skipping his regular bench press warm-up.

BBCOM: Some wrestlers are born into wresting households and dream of it from an early age. Was that you just?

Alejandro Sancho: No, I assumed I used to be going to be an NBA player. However I used to be 5-foot-6—possibly five-five—in order that wasn’t going to work. The wrestling coach satisfied me. Then I had my first observe throughout my freshman 12 months—I threw some child on his head and fell in love with the game.

I’ve talked to some other Greco-Roman wrestlers who’ve mentioned there is a back-and-forth with including muscle as a wrestler. It will make you stronger, however it’s additionally further weight. How have you ever discovered how a lot you must carry?

In Greco-Roman it takes a couple of years to essentially settle right into a weight class. Proper after highschool, I used to be weighing about 140 at 18 years previous. So I crept as much as about 147, and now I am 27 years previous, and I nonetheless wrestle at 147. However clearly my physique has matured, my physique has gotten stronger, so after I’m not wrestling, I am strolling round at 170-175. When Covid hit, I used to be in the gym every day and I used to be extra like 180.

Proper now, I am within the technique of acclimating my weight for the Olympics. I am ensuring I am consuming every part proper, figuring out, taking my protein and dietary supplements. My physique’s strolling round proper now at like 155.

For severe athletes, not taking protein is not an choice. It is an integral part of a life devoted to coaching and outcomes.

Once I assume “wrestler,” I feel “strict weight-reduction plan.” Did that come simple to you?

Not simple, however I have been doing it for some time now. At this level, seven years in, I am not an 18-year-old child anymore. I do not need my physique to really feel like I am 47 after I’m 27. So I’ve received no selection however to take care myself and eat healthy.

Totally different sports activities have completely different sorts of peak ages. What is the peak age of a Greco-Roman wrestler?

About 27-30. Wrestlers, particularly in Greco fashion, do not cease wrestling till they’re 33-35 years previous. I am simply moving into that, and I really feel like I am in pristine form and able to go.

How do you practice to keep up that pristine form?

So, with wrestling we do a whole lot of “physique exercises” the place we seize the opposite man, put them over our shoulders, and we do squats. I additionally do a whole lot of energy cleans.

I do not bench that a lot. I truly hurt myself benching six months in the past, after I was lifting each single day. I got here up, didn’t even warm up, went straight to bench, did 315, and on the fourth rep, I used to be attempting to get it up and my biceps tendon completely ruptured.

I had surgical procedure proper after that and began rehab. Simply 4 months later, I had the Olympic trials and managed to make the staff.

Joints feeling the miles? Handle them so that they’ll care for you in coaching.

How has being a part of the Olympic staff intensified your coaching and prep?

I simply received again from Olympic staff camp in Atlanta. We had all 4 guys who wanted to coach, they usually introduced in training partners from all throughout america. We had been coaching twice a day, then lifting twice every week. However this near the Olympics, I can not actually do anything to improve my strength or something. It is all about ensuring my thoughts and physique are able to go.

How do the Olympic trainers and coaches assist care for your thoughts?

I get a telephone name about 4 occasions a month from psychologists. I speak to them, and I do some breathing exercises they recommend. It is form of a sociological sport. However I’ve by no means had that kind of steering earlier than and I feel it positively helps me on the mat.

You practice as a part of the US Military’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). Did that issue into your option to enlist?

Sure. After school I used to be wrestling on the Olympic Coaching Middle right here in Colorado, and the Military program ended up developing and wrestling with us. They’ve a complete bunch of excellent middleweights and the most effective performing staff, they usually advised me about this system. I wasn’t actually getting paid, and wrestling is a poor man’s sport, so I seemed into it.

I had at all times wished to get into law enforcement, and I graduated earlier with a felony justice diploma. Becoming a member of the Military, the place I work as a navy police officer, offers me good credentials to transition into civilian life. All the things labored out for a purpose: I get to serve my nation and go to the Olympics. Now I will do my finest to make each of them proud.

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