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Lindland's Olympic Ride

People might expect that winning an Olympic silver medal would change a person's life dramatically. Even though Matt Lindland has moved his family and changed his profession, he still believes that his life has not changed much since his glorious medal-winning performance in Sydney in September. Lindland was living and training before the Olympics last summer in Lincoln, Neb., where he was a coach affiliated with the Univ. of Nebraska program. He planned on staying there with his family when a major change occurred with the wrestling program. "When Mark Manning took over as the head coach of the University of Nebraska wrestling team, I thought he would hire me as an assistant coach, but he didn't," said Lindland. "So after the Olympics, we decided to pick a town we would like to live in, then went there and found a job." Lindland, his wife Angie, and their two children, James and Robin, moved to Oregon City, Ore., not far from where Matt attended high school. He didn't just find a job, he invested in one. "I started a used car dealership with two life-long friends from Gresham, Ore.," said Lindland. "It's a lot different than coaching, where I am on the mat all of the time. Now I have to work that much harder to stay focused on my own training." Lindland is fortunate that he has an excellent training situation just fifteen minutes away from his new job, in Gresham, Ore. He trains with former U.S. World team member Randy Couture at Couture's gym. Team USA member Chael Sonnen also trains at Couture's gym, so there are a lot of wrestlers there to keep Lindland active. Not only has he changed jobs, he has added a new sport to his schedule. Lindland signed a three-fight deal with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships), which he started in December of 2000. "The training and competition are very similar with fighting and wrestling," said Lindland. "It's an easy transition because you train to defeat another individual, which you do in wrestling as well." He won his first fight in December, and his next fight will be in March or April. "I consider the UFC just another kind of competition," said Lindland. "It's a natural evolution to go to fighting from wrestling. It's a chance for me to use some of the same skills as wrestling, the only difference with fighting is that I get paid for it." Lindland was back on the wrestling mat for the first time since the Olympics, and he is preparing for the next international season. He attended the January Greco-Roman training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. "I've just continued my training as I did before the Olympics," said Lindland. "It felt good to be at the training center and back on the mat." But has winning an Olympic silver medal changed his life dramatically? "No, everything seems to be the same," said Lindland. "Of course, it doesn't hurt when I talk to people interested in investing in our dealership, but I didn't think it would change anything drastically, and it hasn't." Lindland had an amazing run to the gold-medal finals at the Olympics. He faced new and old opponents, and those which he has never lost to before. "I just went into each match with a strategy and plan," said Lindland. "Sometimes when the match gets going, you have to throw your plan out the window and adjust to what your opponent is doing, but at least I was able to go into each match knowing what specifically I wanted to do." One may think Lindland's toughest match was the finals. According to Matt, it was his first match. "The Georgian was one of my tougher opponents because I had never wrestled him before," said Lindland. "I was a little nervous on what to expect, but everything played into my strategy which was to stay away from his overhooks." Since Matt hasn't retired from wrestling, as medalists sometimes do after an Olympic year, winning a silver medal is just part of the process of his goals. "My goal right now is to win a World title," said Lindland. "Whether it is an Olympic or World gold medal, it doesn't matter, that's what I want. I fell a little short in Sydney, so I'm going to keep trying." The medal may not have directly changed Matt, but everything seems to have changed since the Olympics for the entire Lindland family.
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