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Q&A with 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist and 1998 World Champion Sammie Henson



1) How much time did you take off when you got home from Sydney?

"I took about one month off for myself and for my family. I started training with the guys at OU (Oklahoma Univ.), but did it for them, not for myself. I tried to get going, to help the guys but not for myself. I started training for myself about three weeks before Christmas, it was good to get back on the mat for myself."

2) What functions did you have at home to celebrate?

"I didn't have a parade or anything, I'm not into that. I rode my Harley to see my family in St. Louis and my wife Stephanie and son Jackson and I went to see her family in Kansas City as well. I wasn't happy with my performance in Sydney at the time, so I just wanted to get away for a little bit. While we were in St. Louis, we were recognized at a Cardinal baseball game. They announced and introduced us before the game, which was really cool."

3) Are you still training for the World Championships and the 2004 Olympics?

"Yes. I'm just taking it one year at a time. I want to be a World Champion again. My son Jackson is only 18 months old, so he keeps everything new for me. As long as I focus on just taking it one year at a time right now, that will be good for me."

4) What is your goal right now?

"My goal is to win a world title again. I want to be on top of the world, there is nothing like it. It's very special to me. It seems like more of a pure title to be a World Champion. There isn't as much media attention than at the Olympics, just guys on the mat wrestling. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have an Olympic gold medal, but being on top of the world at the World Championships is a great feeling."

5) Compare your training from this time last year to now?

"It's different because I had a lot more matches under my belt last year at this time. I'm doing two tournaments on the tours in a couple of weeks which will be good. Then I'll do the World Cup, so I'll get some more matches under my belt. I'm also just trying to enjoy life while I'm training the same as I always do on the mat. I'm trying to not let the pressure of winning get to me. I'm also trying to learn to keep my mind away from wrestling when I'm away."

6) Do you feel you have something to prove to yourself or others since Sydney?

"What happened in Sydney was my fault. I was very disappointed. Then I saw John Smith in the airport and he told me - don't wrestle because you lost - I don't have anything to prove, even if I had won the gold medal, I would still wrestle nowhi t. Which is what John meant. It's still my life, it's still in my blood. Can I get better? Yes, I can. When I stop believing I can get better, that's when I will quit."

7)How do you feel the success and media attention at the Olympics helped wrestling?

"I do feel changes in the sport of wrestling for the better. Definitely with Rulon (Gardner) winning, that is one of the greatest things to ever happen to our sport and I see it doing nothing but making wrestling more of a success."
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