LONDON -- Judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison of Marblehead was one of four athletes who spoke at a United States Olympic Committee press conference this morning to discuss the state of the Games so far. Here are her thoughts:
On the Closing Ceremony Sunday night:
Harrison: "My roommate and I have been practicing the Spice Girls, so we're ready."
On the fascination of looks in media coverage of female athletes:
Harrison:"I think our society puts into women and how they look and what they wear or how they dress and I think that being a strong female competitor is the best thing we can do to fight that. It doesn't matter how we look, we just won the gold medal. It doesn't matter what we wear, we're part of Team USA and there's no better colour than the American flag."
On whether winning is the most important thing at the Olympic Games:
Harrison: "The Olympic motto is faster, higher, stronger and I think every American came here to do that. I came here to perform at my very, very best and make America proud as a result."
On the success of women on Team USA, who have compiled more medals than their male counterparts:
Harrison: "I've been thrilled to see how well US women have done. It feels amazing to be apart of something so much bigger than myself, I definitely feel connected. To be able to say, 'I'm a strong confident young woman and an Olympic champion is amazing and I hope we have a million young girls inspired right now."
LONDON — Kayla Harrison is a self-described “huge” Celtics fan and admirer of coach Doc Rivers.
During a chance encounter with Rivers at the NBC broadcast headquarters Thursday night, the judo gold medalist from Marblehead, Mass., discovered that the admiration is mutual.
Rivers is here moonlighting as a studio analyst for NBC’s coverage of the basketball competition. He was preparing to do a segment when Harrison, who was scheduled for a later interview, walked in.
“I just get done hair and makeup, go in the green room, and there’s Doc Rivers, and I just yelled, ‘Ahhhh, it’s Doc!’ Harrison said, “and he comes over all excited and shakes my hand and says, ‘Is that a gold medal?’ He was so nice, so genuine. I was jumping up and down because I was so already excited.”
Rivers was so impressed that he asked to abbreviate his segment and have Harrison come on the set with him because, he said, “she’s a better story than anything we were going to talk about. I wanted to talk to her. I tell you, what an incredible person. It was so cool.’’
Harrison said she fell for the Celtics instantly when she moved to Massachusetts in 2007 as a 16-year-old. She attended a game at TD Garden with her fiancé as recently as April, sitting in the third row.
“People say all the time, ‘I’m a Celtics fan,’ and you’re like, ‘OK,’ because you find out maybe they don’t know who Paul [Pierce] is or something,’’ Rivers said. “But I can tell you, she is legit.’’
Rivers, who knew about Harrison’s back story as a sexual abuse survivor before he met her, is going to arrange for her to be honored at a Celtics game during the upcoming season.
“It would be great to get all the Boston-area Olympians on the floor,” Rivers said. “But I want to make special mention of Kayla, do something special.
“She’s a true survivor. I love that she talks about her story and wants it out and wants to help people.”
While Harrison knows plenty about Rivers’s sport, well, that isn’t mutual.
“I know nothing about judo,’’ Rivers said. “Actually, her manager was trying to explain it to me because I told him that I saw a match that morning and it lasted about 10 seconds. The person was flat on her back and I wasn’t sure what happened. But I told Kayla I needed her to teach all my bigs how to block out. She got a big kick out of that.”
The video above was produced several months before the Olympics to go along with a feature story by Shira Springer about Wakefield's Kayla Harrison.
Following Harrison's gold medal performance on Thursday, it's worth presenting again. In it, she discussed dealing with being sexually abused by a former coach, as well as her aspirations in the Olympics.
"Every day in my mind, when I go to sleep, I win the Olympics," she said.
Wakefield's Ronda Rousey becomes the first American woman to medal in judo since it became an Olympic sport in 1992, by earning the bronze medal today.
More details to come.
BEIJING -- Taraje Williams-Murray, who lives in Wakefield and attends Boston University, handed Japan its first loss in an Olympic match since the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, but was unable to advance to the medal round in the men's 60 kg class in judo competition at the Beijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium this morning.
Williams-Murray upset reigning Asian champion Hiroaki Hiroaka of Japan, the No. 5-ranked player in the world, but then fell to Javier Antonio Guedez Sanchez of Venezuela.