By the time Pat Smith stepped onto the mat in Iowa City, Iowa, for his shot at the 2016 Olympics, the Minnesota-born-and-raised wrestler had already endured his share of heartbreak in his beloved sport.
There was the college career that didn’t reach the heights he had hoped. And the second-place finish at the 2014 World Team Trials that left him one win short of a spot on the United States team for that year’s World Championships. And yet another finals loss at the 2015 World Team Trials.
So it would have been entirely understandable if Smith had left Carver-Hawkeye Arena that April night—after one more agonizing finals defeat, this one with a Rio Olympics berth on the line, with a one-match lead slipping away, with a referee’s judgment call playing a role—and simply walked away from wrestling. In the short term, he and his brother had talked about training for an Ironman triathlon together. Longer term, he had a business career to build and a body, mind, and spirit to rest.
But then, this is what has carried the 26-year-old through setbacks on the mat, through a demanding gauntlet of wrestling, work, and master’s schooling, and to this month’s World Championships in Paris: He just keeps going. Continue reading at carlsonschool.umn.edu