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Dartanyon Crockett, 2016 Team USA Paralympic Judo Wrestler, On His Start, Training Routine [VIDEO EXCLUSIVE]

Dartanyon Crockett On 2016 Paralympics, Judo by uSports

Dartanyon Crockett, a member of the 2016 US Paralympic Judo Team who will be competing in the Games in Rio, Brazil this August, discussed how he first got into his sport, his typical training routine, his career goals, and the best advice he has ever received.

Crockett was one of the more than 75 Team USA Olympians to attend the 100-Day Countdown celebration in New York’s Times Square on April 27.

“It was offered to me after I’d wrestled in high school,” the 25-year-old Crockett said regarding his debut in Judo. “An ESPN documentary was shot on me back in high school, and it showed that I was legally blind and then the coaches saw the documentary and requested that I do Paralympic Judo, and I of course said yes.”

As Crockett stated, he is legally blind, and was diagnosed with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON)–or Leber’s disease–at a young age. He ran track, competed in high jump, and played football at Lincoln-West High School in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a two-time Senate Wrestling League champion and also set an Ohio state record as a high school power lifter, dead lifting 585 pounds.

With regards to his training routine, Crockett stated: “Three days of the week it’s strength conditioning and four days of the week it’s just straight judo.

Crockett began training in judo in 2009 and moved to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, in 2010 to continue his studies. He completed his first year of college at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland before transferring to Pikes Peak Community College. His wish is to complete law school, become an attorney and serve under-represented individuals.

“I want to continue competing at this level, and continue loving it,” Crockett said regarding his athletic career goals. “And being comfortable with myself leaving, depending on how I do in Rio or any other tournament for that matter. I want to be able to put everything I can out on a mat and be comfortable with the performance that I gave. ”

Crockett previously competed at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and won a bronze medal. That same year, he won a gold medal at the Pajulahti Games in Nastola, Finland. He is also a five-time gold medalist at the USA Judo National Championships for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and was a gold medalist at the IBSA World Championships in Colorado Springs in 2014 and a silver medalist at the German Open for Blind & Visually Impaired, Heidelberg, Germany in 2015.

When asked about the greatest challenges he’s faced in his athletic career, Crockett said: “I think it’s the sacrifices that you make. I don’t think a lot of Americans fully understand a lot of the sacrifices that Olympians and Paralympians make when they’re on their journey to compete in a sport. Sacrificing friendships, relationships, work, school, etc.”

“A lot of times you’re sacrificing your livelihood. There’s a million things you could be doing, but if you’re really in love with your sport and you want to take it somewhere and you want to compete at this level, then you’re going to have to make a lot of sacrifices. You’re going to sacrifice a piece of yourself to do it. It completes you.”

Crockett dedicates all of his competitions to his mother, Juanita, who passed away when he was eight years old.

Finally, Crockett revealed the greatest piece of advice he ever received. “It’s hard to single it out, but my biggest takeaway from a coach is back when I competed in London, it was my first games, and I was nervous and scared. I didn’t know if I even deserved to be there, and I ended up taking bronze that day. But after my first match, my coach saw that it was a rough match for me: physically, mentally, emotionally. And after the match, he told me, ‘You can go home with a sympathy medal, or you can go home with some hardware and shock the world.’

PHOTO: LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 20: Paralympic judo athlete Dartanyon Crockett poses for a portrait at the USOC Rio Olympics Shoot at Quixote Studios on November 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena