September 26, 2006
Wrestler Harry Lester's Blog from the World Championships in China
Monday, Sept. 25 (Bronze Day)
I just to say first and foremost, I want to thank everyone that has been reading these blogs and for all my supporters. It truly is a blessing to have so many people behind me in every aspect of my life. I want to thank all the people at CVCA for everything that you have done for me, my family and all my coaches from North Akron up until known. I want to thank the USOEC for providing me a place to train and be able to pursue my dreams. Without any of you, I don’t think this would have been possible. All my honor and glory goes to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without my faith in him, I know for a fact that none of this would be possible. So once again, thanks to all.
My day started off well. I got up at 6:30 a.m. to have some breakfast with [my wife] Ashley. She keeps me calm and keeps my mind off of wrestling. We had a quick breakfast, and I went back and got a quick shower before I headed down to get on the bus that took the athletes to the venue. Before I got on the bus, I turned my iPod on and got into my zone. I knew today was going to be a good day. After we got to the venue, Joe Lindsey and I went and warmed up in a ridiculously hot warm up area. I started sweating changing. [USOEC teammate and training partner] Jake Fisher came and put me through a good workout.
About an hour into the competition, they called my name in broken English, kind of like Hurrie Lesturr. I knew I was wrestling a Korean, but I didn’t know it was last year’s silver medalist. Anyway, I went out on the mat and I gave it 100 percent. I beat him soundly and felt confident about my performance. I then went out and put on another great performance but it didn’t go my way. I lost to a guy from Kyrgysztan that I should have beaten easily, but, in wrestling, things are never as they seem. Some matches just don’t go in your favor. I took that match hard. I knew I should have been on my way to the finals, but I blew it. That’s all I kept thinking; I blew it again.
After that guy qualified for the finals, I got pulled back into the tournament. It’s a weird system. If you get beat before the semifinals, the guy that beats you must make it to the finals in order for you to get a chance to wrestle for bronze. I hope that makes it easier to understand.
My first match back, I had India. India isn’t known for their wrestling, but this was the World Championships, and I wasn’t going to take anyone lightly. I wrestled a sound match. I did what I had to do without wasting too much energy. I knew my next two matches were going to be barn burners. In my next match, I had last year’s world champion from Bulgaria. I’ve wrestled with him before and I knew that I could beat him, so I was very confident going into the match. Right away, I started attacking him and pushing his lungs, that means trying to get him tired. I did that throughout the match and came out victorious.
For the bronze medal match, I had a multiple time medalist from Turkey. I remember seeing his name everywhere while I was still in high school. He was one of the dirtiest wrestlers I have encountered. He did everything he could to try to break me mentally, but I knew I had a game plan and I stuck to it. In the third period, there was some fishy officiating. They took away some of my points and gave him points, and then added time to the clock to give him more chances to beat me. I beat him three different times in the third period. I should have gotten three medals for that match. I kept thinking to myself, “There is no way he can beat me, no way.” I was pumped after the match. I knew I just beat a good wrestler and three referees.
After my match, I got a chance to see [U.S. World Teammate] Joe Warren win the gold medal. Joe might be one of the craziest and most intense guys I know and to see him break down like he did when he won showed me mean guys cry too—just kidding. It was an awesome day. [U.S. World Teammate] Lindsey Durlacher also took bronze. We had a great showing compared to our performance last year. We all did the award stand ceremonies and headed back to the hotel and to bed. Well, hopefully I’ll be writing to tell you about the medals we get from the next three guys that compete today. Once again, thanks for the support and prayers!
Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23-24
Okay, sorry I didn’t write yesterday; I was a little down from cutting weight and not being able to eat or drink much. But today, Sunday, I feel so much better like 110 percent better. I weighed in about five hours ago and I put on 12 pounds already. I feel like a new person.
Yesterday was good and bad. The good was that [my wife] Ashley finally made it to China. As soon as she arrived at the hotel, she came and visited me in my room. We decided to go and check out some of the shops at the nearby mall. We visited Louis Vuitton and some other stores along those lines. After about 45 minutes, I needed to go back and lay down because I was super tired from not eating or drinking. We went back into the hotel and checked into her room, and I took a quick nap before I had to go work out.
I worked out for about two hours doing various things. I biked for about 45 minutes and got in the sauna the rest of the time. I for sure thought I was going to lose three kilograms. I only lost 2 kg, which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t good enough in my mind. I went back to Ashley’s room and had a boost—a protein drink, and lay down to watch House. I fell asleep in her room and got up in the morning to an ungodly taste in my mouth. It tasted like I was chewing on rubber bands coated in cow manure. Yeah, gross huh, you better be glad you didn’t have that taste in your mouth. I stayed in Ashley’s room until around 8 p.m., and then went back to my room and talked with my coaches to get a game plan on how I was going to cut my weight.
We decided to go to the venue where they were supposed to have a sauna. After a ridiculous cab ride, we arrived at the venue only to find out they didn’t have a sauna but a steam room. I had never really used a steam room, but it was my only option, so I sucked it up and got in it. After staying for about 10 minutes, I decided to put on my plastics. I hate plastics, and I am saying hate. They are close to the worst thing on this earth in close comparison with Satan. My training partner [and USOEC teammate] Jake Fisher ran with me for about 30 minutes and then massaged me to make me feel better. I sat around for about 15 minutes and took my plastics off to find out I was .6 kg over, and I had more than two hours to lose it. That put me in a good mindset, even though that horrible taste in my mouth was coming back. I knew in my head that in hours I was going to be eating and drinking all that I wanted.
I then went back into the steam room, and after three or four goes I was on weight. I went to medical check and got hassled by two Chinese ladies about my nails being to long. I had no idea what they were saying, but they kept pointing to my nails so I just figured that’s what they were talking about. After medical check, I sat in line to weigh in. I waited for about 10 minutes and they started weigh in. I was toward the end of the line so it took another 10 minutes; it seemed like three hours. After weighing in, I can’t even remember the first drink I had, but I know I had a lot of it. I must have drunk for five minutes straight. I drank so much that my stomach hurt.
Ashley, Jake and I then took a taxi back to the hotel, and I showered so we could go out to eat with one of our team leaders, and the rest of the coaches and wrestlers. We went to this surprisingly good Italian restaurant. I had pasta and chicken that was okay, but one of the workout partners got pasta and smoked salmon, and I couldn’t keep my fork off of his plate. Rude yes, but we are a bunch of wrestlers so it really doesn’t matter. We stayed at the restaurant for about two hours and then headed back to our hotel to relax. It is now 8:30 p.m., and I’m getting ready to have my next meal, McDonald’s.
Well, I’ll write sometime tomorrow after I get done wrestling. Thanks for the support and prayers. I hope to make you all proud tomorrow.
Friday, Sept. 22
The latest I’ve slept in so far is a whopping 7:30 a.m. I weighed myself to see how much I could eat and I was 4.7 kilograms overweight, which wasn’t bad. I then had some fruit and juice for breakfast. Soon, I’ll be cutting almost all my meals since it’s getting down to the day of weigh-in and my weight is a little higher than I had hoped. I went to practice and drilled for about 30 minutes. I was kind of disappointed with how little weight I lost and I was tired, so I came back to my room and went to sleep.
I slept until it was time for our next practice. I got up and weighed myself only to find out I was 5.2 kg overweight from the water and Gatorade I had before I went to sleep. Man, I felt bad after stepping on the scale. It was a mental breaker, but I have a plan and I’m going to stick with it; nothing like that is going to break me. I went to practice and had a short drill, stretch and massage. I then went back and weighed myself and was 4.5 kg over, which wasn’t too bad. I had some more to drink to feel better and lay down for an hour to rest.
After resting, I headed down to the spa to sauna and relax. It seemed like the whole sauna was rented out by the American team, since I only saw Americans in there. They were laughing and telling stories once again. It was the kind of environment I needed to be in while I cut the weight. I was in the sauna with some of the coaches and it was good to hear some of the cutting weight stories; it made me comfortable with how much I had to lose. I stayed for about an hour, losing 1.5 kg, getting down to be only 3.5 kg over. While in there, I had my ritual watermelon, which seemed to get better this time. I think it’s just because I’m losing more weight.
After the spa, I came back up to the room to some disappointing news. [My wife] Ashley’s flight in Detroit was delayed and she didn’t make her connecting flight in Japan. She comes in tomorrow at 1:40 p.m. It will be so good to see her, but I’m upset since I can’t go pick her up at the airport as I intended. I got a chance to talk to her on the phone for about ten minutes and she seemed like everything was okay. The airline put her up in a hotel near the airport, but she says everything is so dark—not many lights or other buildings. She is very excited to see me and be here to support me in my weight cutting, and my wrestling. I don’t know how she deals with me when I cut weight because I start to act like a baby, but she just pampers me and lets me know everything will be okay after I weigh in.
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. We switch hotels at 11 a.m., supposedly to a nicer hotel. I hate that they make us switch the day before weigh in because it’s the day when you cut all your weight. It’s messing everyone’s cutting weight schedule up. Then, we have to get our credentials to weigh in and get into the sports arena. After that, we are on our own for cutting weight. I just plan on running in the morning and taking a sauna in the afternoon to get below the 2-kg over mark.
Bedtime is around 11 p.m. I’ll write to you all tomorrow, and thanks for all the “hi’s” and the prayers.
Thursday, Sept. 21
Not too bad of a morning—I got up and had breakfast and was only 5.4 kilograms over; I thought I was going to be more. The bad thing though was that I had more to drink and eat, so my weight went right back up. I had my usual breakfast, which consisted of some orange juice and fruit, and I went back to my room to read some of my book again until I left for practice.
For practice, I drilled with [USOEC teammate] Jake Fisher and wrestled around with [USOEC head Greco coach] Ivan [Ivanov] again. I didn’t go too hard because I’m starting to feel a little tired. After practice, I came back and read a little bit and watched House on my laptop while my roommate decided to go shopping at another knockoff alley that he heard about. After about one episode of House, I decided to order myself something to eat. I haven’t been eating too much at all, so I ordered some noodles and beef. They were so greasy, but so good at the same time. After eating, I watched some more House. Around 3:45 p.m., I decided to go watch freestyle practice.
After watching freestyle for a half an hour, I grabbed the legendary Lee Kemp just to roll around with him and burn time until my practice. Lee Kemp is a three-time world champion and has a ridiculous resume of other accomplishments. He is also an Ohio native like me. I did a camp with him over the summer but I didn’t get a chance to wrestle with him, so that was a chance I couldn’t let pass me again. While wrestling him, it seemed like he had never retired. He was still super fast and so strong. I could see how he won all those matches during his career. Well, not to brag or anything, but I got the only take down in the match. After wrestling with Lee, Jake Fisher and I wrestled a little freestyle for about ten minutes, just until we got a good sweat going, and then we went and played basketball. I only played for 20 minutes and then I went back to my room and lay down.
After laying down for about an hour, I decided to go to the spa and get a quick sauna session in to get my weight down. There were a lot of freestyle and Greco guys in there joking and eating, so it was fun to be in there hearing all the jokes and stories. I went a couple goes [in the sauna] and then checked my weight and saw that I was 4.3 kg over. I wanted to be 4.5 kg before days end, so I treated myself to some of the delicious watermelon, but I made sure not to eat too much of it.
After that, I came back to my room and talked to [my wife] Ashley [on the phone]. I talked to Ashley for an hour or so while she packed her bags and got things organized for her trip over here. She leaves Thursday morning and will be here Friday night. I’m going to go to the airport to pick her up and I can’t wait to see her. She is going to be flying for about 24 hours, so she is in for a long travel day.
After talking to her, I went to sleep only to be awakened by T.C., one of my teammates [on the USA World Team]. He needed me to do a favor for him, which I gladly did since I’m just a nice guy. After that, I watched some more House and went back to sleep. Tomorrow is going to be bad weight-wise because I’m going to get down to 3.5 kg [overweight] and I know I will be hurting physically, but mentally, I’ll still be hard as a rock.
Well, that’s the day. I’ll write to you tomorrow, and if you would like to send an e-mail, you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, Sept. 20
Finally, I got some sleep. I went to sleep around four or five on Tuesday afternoon, and I didn’t get up until 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. I felt so good! Around 7 a.m., I went and ate breakfast with a couple of the guys; I had my fried eggs, and some watermelon and cantaloupe, and lots of orange juice. They give you these tiny glasses that are three ounces so you have to keep getting up to get your drinks. It’s kind of annoying.
After breakfast, I went back to my room and did some reading until I left for practice. During practice, we were required to wrestle one match after drilling for a while, so I warmed up and started stretching. As I was stretching, this guy that helps the guys that train in Colorado Springs came over to me and started helping me stretch. It felt like every muscle in my body was going to rip. I thought he worked for a pretzel company after he got done stretching because he twisted my legs and neck in all kinds of ways I didn’t think was possible. After being a pretzel, I wrestled [USOEC teammate] Jake Fisher in a match, and following the match, I wrestled around with [USOEC] Coach Ivan for about 10 minutes to cool down. I lost two kilograms, about four and a half pounds, during that practice.
After practice, I went back to my room and made myself some tuna that I brought with me, and I had water, Gatorade and a Chinese Fantail. For the Fanta drinkers, I have only seen orange—no other flavors. After replenishing myself, I read some more of my books and watched a little TV. To my amazement, I stayed up for the first time in between practices.
For our next practice, Jake Fisher and I went over and drilled during one of the Chinese freestyle practices. While we were drilling, we looked over and saw Coach Ivan over in a corner talking to some Chinese guys. I think he was selling trade secrets or something—just kidding.
After drilling for 30 minutes, the rest of the guys came over and we decided to play basketball. I felt bad this time around because we kicked a bunch of people off a court so that we could play. The only thing I kept thinking was that they are saying, “It’s always the Americans making trouble somewhere.” Anyway, I, once again, dazzled the courts with my amazing skills. I threw behind the back, no look, and between the leg passes during the whole game. During that game, I looked over and the Chinese government came down to watch me play. Okay, maybe not, but that would have been cool. Actually, I was terrible that game. I don’t think I made a shot, but I did have some nice passes. After the game, Jake Fisher and I went back and went to the amazing sauna. They have the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted.
Following the sauna session, I went back to my room and read a little bit until Ashley, my wife, called while she was on her way to work. After she called, I went to sleep. That was my day. I’ll write back tomorrow when I get a chance, so stay tuned.
Tuesday, Sept. 19
Tuesday started off really early—about 1 a.m. early. When I got up at 1 a.m., I thought it was for sure 6 a.m., but I looked at the time on the computer and, to my amazement, it was 1 a.m. I messed around on the computer for a little while and watched TV for a little while, but as usual, there was nothing on. I lay back down, but couldn’t go to sleep. Around 7 a.m., I went and had breakfast with some of the freestyle guys (different style of wrestling, but still American guys) and Greco guys that were up. I added another item to my breakfast plate and that was broccoli. It was the best I’d ever had anywhere in the world.
After breakfast, my teammates and I figured we didn’t want to go to Hong Kong. Instead, we traveled around in the shops on the other side of town. It was a good decision that we didn’t go to Hong Kong because the people who went had to pay $180 for another visa to get back into China. As soon as we got to the little shops, a Chinese man tried to get us to buy all kinds of knockoff stuff from his stores that were in little back alley rooms. If I were by myself, I would never go into these rooms but we, about 12 guys, had no problem going back with him, plus we had Dremiel Byers, who is our heavy weight and is a massive person. These men that were trying to get us to buy knockoff stuff were ridiculous. They were constantly putting things in your hands trying to make you buy things. I couldn’t wait to get out of these shops. We shopped for about four hours once we found the regular stores. I found a nice Louis Vuitton roller bag that I liked, so I got that.
After we got back, my roommate and I popped in House series one. I lasted for about two episodes and it was lights out for me. I slept the rest of the night, getting my first full night of sleep. Well, that was my day. Wednesday starts my weight cutting routine and I will be miserable until I weigh in on Sunday. Well, I’ll fell a little better on Friday night once Ashley, my wife, gets here.
Monday, Sept. 18
It was an early morning for me, as I got up at 3 a.m.—I went to sleep so early Sunday night. I got up and tried to look up stuff on the internet, and I found out that they actually make my favorite jeans, Red Monkey Jeans, in Hong Kong, which is only an hour and a half away from Guangzhou. We are going to Hong Kong tomorrow on our day off.
Around 7 a.m., after waiting so long, it felt like days, I went and ate breakfast with the rest of my teammates that were in the same situation. I had my usual fried eggs and fruit. After eating, I went back to my room and read some of the books I have to do book reviews on for my classes. After reading, I attended practice, where I drilled with [USOEC teammate] Jake Fisher for about 30 minutes, and then wrestled [USOEC] Coach Ivan in a match. To my teammates back in Marquette, Ivan was pumped and ready to go, as usually when he challenges me, but he didn’t have a chance in this match. I’ll leave it at that.
After practice in the morning, I went back to my room and did a little more reading until I fell asleep like every other day in between practices. My roommate Jake Clark came in around 4 p.m. and said he found a sweet place to shop with tons of knockoff stores. Then, I went back to sleep for another 30 minutes.
For our practice in the afternoon, we, once again, hit the courts to play basketball. Our games didn’t go too well this time around because of some team arguments and such, but I think I saw some scouts there checking me out to join the Chinese team. I think I heard someone call me little Yao Ming.
After practice, a couple of the guys went to the spa in our hotel. It was amazing. It was kind of creepy at first. We went into the locker room and there were guys just standing there. We started to get changed into our spa attire and the guys started grabbing our clothes and hanging them. It was a weird feeling to have them standing there and looking at us. After the weirdness secession, I went into the sauna and they had a plasma TV that you can watch while sitting in there. This was the Bentley of saunas. The spa had juice and fruit that you could eat while relaxing in chairs. It was an amazing experience.
After the spa, we came back to our rooms and chilled. I did a little reading and watched some of the most ridiculous movies on TV that I have ever seen in my life. I had no choice because there are only two English-speaking channels. Well, that was my day. Hopefully, I’ll have something exciting for you tomorrow after our trip to Hong Kong.
Sunday, Sept. 17
I got up this morning and had breakfast with the team. I had two fried eggs, and some fruit and yogurt. I didn’t want to try anything new this morning, but some of our guys loved the won tong soup. After breakfast, I went back to my room to get ready for practice, which consisted of drilling and stretching out. In practice [USOEC] Coach Ivan and [former USOEC wrestler] Jeremiah Davis challenged each other to matches. It was funny because they are both very competitive.
Following practice, I came back to my room and went to sleep—although, I should have stayed up. After waking up, I went back to practice and drilled, and had a match with [USOEC teammate] Jake Fisher. The match went well and then I wrestled with Coach Ivan a little bit. After that practice, I came back to my room and ordered a pineapple and chicken pizza. It was the best food I’ve had here so far. Later, my roommate, Jake Clark, and I watched the show Weeds on DVD until I fell asleep.
Friday, Sept. 15
I got up around 8 a.m. and went and checked my e-mail in the business center, since the computer in my room is at a snail’s pace. Then, I had breakfast, which wasn’t bad at all. They had some weird stuff, but they also had Americanized food, so it was a good balance. After eating breakfast, I hung out in the room with two of my teammates [from the United States’ World Team], T.C. and Byers. We sat, talked and watched movies until we decided to take a walk, which was supposed to be 15 minutes each way, but turned into a two-hour walk. We stopped at McDonald’s since it was the only one we saw since arriving in town, and then we visited local shops.
After coming back, we got ready for practice, which consisted of a basketball game of all the training partners and World Team members playing together. We played in something like a basketball park and I say that because there were about 10 courts where tons of people were playing. They cleared one of the courts for us and we played a 20-minute game, while the Chinese cheered us on and giggled at our horrible basketball skills; although, I think I could have went pro if I were a foot or two taller.
Now, I’m sitting back in the hotel ready to jump in bed, so I’ll be writing tomorrow night. I’m sure something exciting will go down because we have a hilarious team.
Thursday, Sept. 14
Thursday morning I got up early, as usual, and attended our 6:45 a.m. practice. [USOEC teammate] Jake Fisher and I left a little early to pick up a couple of things from Wal-mart, and then we were off to the airport thanks to [USOEC wrestler] Spenser Mango (our ride to the airport). We arrived in Detroit, where we had to rush to our next plane, which headed to Tokyo, Japan. This was probably the longest flight (12 hours) I’ve ever been on. I slept most of the way, even though I thought I stayed up for the majority of it.
After arriving in Tokyo, [USOEC] coach Ivan Ivanov, [USOEC teammate] Chas Betts, Jake Fisher and I got McDonald’s because we were hungry, and I like to get McDonald’s in every country I go to. After boarding for my last flight to Guangzhou, China, I went to sleep right away and woke up four hours later to the lights of Guangzhou. Following a 45-minute taxi ride, we arrived at our hotel and got our rooms, which are the nicest I’ve stayed in while in a foreign country. I went to sleep around 4 a.m.
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