Gold medalist brings inspirational message to Waynesboro
Henry Cejudo used to have to borrow his brother’s shoes. “He’d work out, and I’d work out after,” said Cejudo, who as a high-school senior won the U.S. Nationals in 2006, and then against all odds won the Olympic freestyle-wrestling gold medal in Beijing in 2008.
“Now I have my own shoe with adidas,” said Cejudo, who will be conducting a freestyle-wrestling clinic at Kate Collins Middle School in Waynesboro on Saturday.
Spots are still open in the clinic. Contact Waynesboro High School wrestling coach Richard Palmer at email@example.com for more information.
“I try to inspire the kids not only just to be wrestlers, but to be good people. Winning this gold medal doesn’t make me great. What’s going to make me great is what I do with this gold medal,” said Cejudo, the youngest American, at 21, to win an Olympic wrestling gold medal.
Cejudo is the U.S.-born son of undocumented Mexican immigrants who settled in California in the 1980s. Henry and his brother, Angel, made the most of the opportunities afforded them by their parents’ sacrifices. Angel is a nationally-ranked amateur wrestler as well, and trains with Henry at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“We had to burn books for heat sometimes in the winter. Now I have my own book coming out in January,” said Cejudo, describing the whirlwind that has been his life since Beijing.
“I just met President Obama at the White House. I’ve been on ‘Oprah.’ I’ve been to Iran as a goodwill ambassador. It’s just been amazing,” Cejudo said.
His story is inspirational, to say the least, from his humble beginnings to the upset-for-the-ages nature of his gold-medal run. He entered the Olympics ranked 31st in the world in the 121-pound weight class and having won only three of his last 10 matches internationally.
“People said I was the future of wrestling, but everybody was thinking 2012 or even 2016 for me to win it. But I had other plans. Every time I step on the mat, it’s to get a win,” Cejudo said.
- Story by Chris Graham