Friday, August 15, 2008

Help an Olympian

Taraje Williams-Murray

overlooking Rio at the 2007 World's

From the Bronx, 24 years old, has been doing Judo since we has 8. Went to the 2004 Olympic games. Has spent the last 4 years sacrificing everything to make it the 2008 Olympic Games.

He made it.

Here's his match against Hiraoka, which he won by decision. He played an incredibly tight game, got up by a point, and played smart to run out the clock ahead, and beat a highly ranked Japanese player that, frankly, no one but his American fans expected him to beat. It wasn't the most romantic and exciting Judo ever played, but any international player would appreciate the strategy and tactical execution of this match.

What you may not know about Taraje, is that in the last 2 years he's medaled at the following events(this is in no way exhaustive, it's just the highlights);
Pan American Championships
USA Judo National Championships

New York Open

Tre Torri International B-Level Tournament (B)

USA Judo Pan Am Games and World Team Trials

USA Judo Nationals

NYAC New York Open
Liberty Bell Championships (66kg)
National Championships (66kg)

U.S. Open (66kg)

While no slouch, it is sort of a long shot to hope for someone from the states to win a medal in the Olympics. While Taraje has some international experience, including an incredible victory (GOLD) at Tre Torri, one of the most prestigious events in international judo, he still doesn't have near the mat time in Europe and Asia that most of his competitors would have.


Because he's lazy?

If you wonder this, please visit his blog, linked to above. Or look up his name on Youtube. Watch several intense strength and conditioning training sessions with coach Rhadi Ferguson (himself an Olympian, as well as a competitor at ADCC and the Mundials), or ask his Judo coach Jimmy Pedro if he's got any work ethic. Read his schedule on his blog, about the morning S&C followed by two technical sessions in one day and randori at night. Or about the diet that he's on to stay at 60kg (that's 132lbs).

The young man works his ass off.
All while trying to complete a master's degree from Boston University. Which brings me to my point; for the time being, it looks like it's time for Taraje to return to school. However, one of those sacrifices I was talking about earlier is rearing it's ugly head;

You see, in America, judo athletes receive no financial support from our Olympic committees. Nor do they receive a lot of support from say the national governing body of Judo, of which we have three rather than the more efficient or centralized ONE. They don't get scholarships, hell, Judo is not even a SCHOLASTIC SPORT at all, like it is an most of the countries that do best in Judo (France, Japan, Korea or Russia).

So, while doing all this training, and hiring all these coaches, Taraje still had to figure out a way to pay for plane tickets to Italy, rent in New York and tuition for grad school. The only answer he could find?
Credit Cards.
BU won't let him back in until he pays his outstanding debts (fair enough I guess). He's racked up a massive amount of debt trying to fulfill his 'Olympic Dream', but now it's time to come home.
Get back to work? London 2012?

The guy won Tre Torri. He can win an Olympic Medal. It would be the first one for the USA since Jimmy Pedro, and one of only a few in US history.
If you can, help him out. He's already had several donors so far, and he's almost a quarter of the way to his goal. Here's the link;

Donate to Taraje's School Fund via PayPal


Stephen said...
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Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason Struck , RKC said...

if the link doesn't send you to Taraje's page where he asks for Donations at the bottom, don't use it.