She took up to Judo when she was six. Her mother was a black belt and hence she was introduced to the sport. The genes from her mother transferred to her took shape in she becoming a judo champion. She won two national championships by the time she was 15. But all this came at the cause of her being abused by her coach. When she had the courage to discuss about this, she moved away from that coach and the culprit was convicted.
She could not participate in the 2008 Olympics as USA, the country she was representing, did not qualify in Judo. In 2010 when she was 20, she won the world championship in her category. When she was training for the 2012 Olympics in Japan, she heard her left knee snap; her MCL had torn. Just 5 months after her injury, she went on to win the Olympic gold. She was the first American to win an Olympic Judo gold.
But her knee had not completely recovered. There was pain and on examination it was found that her knee has been dislocating for the past one year without her knowledge. She needed a reconstructive surgery. All her well-wishers said that she could call it a day… She already had a world championship and an Olympic gold medal.
But she was in judo not just to win medals; she was in judo because that was the love of her life. She was in braces; she could not even walk, and she knew that she could not participate in any event, the whole of 2013.
Kayla Harrison was only motivated by the setback the surgery created. She wanted to come back stronger, and did she? Of course, a champion would, and she was one. Early 2014, she started training and participated in the world championships. She was not ready, but she managed to move up to the semifinals. This made her only stronger and in 2016 Olympics, she became the first non-Asian woman to defend her gold medal. This was some sort of an achievement, which puts her in the list of legends in that sport.
Kayla Harrison showed that when you give yourself to the sport, the medals come your way.