Kayla Harrison is an Olympic gold medalist and has proven that she is the best female Judoka in the world. However, she has inspired millions for what she has done off the mat to get there.
The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most vicious crimes conceivable, a violation of mankind's most basic duty to protect the innocent.
- James T. Walsh
Kayla Harrison was sexually abused as a 13 year-old child by one of her Judo instructors. It's out there. It had to be dealt with, but Kayla did what no other Judoka could do. She won despite having a severely traumatizing experience that most would have crumbled from.
According to the American Psychological Association, government agencies around the country have "estimated that approximately 300,000 children are abused every year in the United States." This means millions of people in this country have been sexually abused. However, not all of them come forward.
They don't point the finger at their attacker, nor do they get justice for themselves or anyone else who has been affected by them. Harrison is different. She made sure her attacker got arrested, and the local authorities made sure he got convicted and sentenced.
And then she moved on. It wasn't quick by any means, but she did. She's even gone to USA Today to tell her story as a way to heal. However, the biggest thing that Harrison has done is provide a role model for the millions out there.
Harrison competed in London, and just by being there she had conquered her demons. But it wasn't enough. She had to win the competition for herself. She will inspire because unlike many, she has completed her dream despite the odds. Shira Springer of the Boston Globe quoted Harrison after winning the gold:
“I’ve never done anything harder than having to go through [the sexual abuse],” she said. “The Olympics wasn’t a breeze, but it’s something I was focused on and that I wanted. I used everything as my fuel. I was able to push it toward something and have a goal and have a dream and I was able to accomplish it.”
She has accomplished more than most. And by winning the gold medal, she has also proven that she can push through the pain to even greater success. All you have to do is push towards a goal and have the dream to be better. You will be. Just look at Kayla.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.