Later, she stunned the world by taking fifth place in her first appearance at the World Championships, an event she subsequently won twice.The Denver native is now in her sixth year of full-time residency at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where she lives in a Spartan dormitory with teammate Jennifer Page and balances a packed training schedule with schoolwork on the side (she’s working toward a degree in Business from DeVry University).
STACK spoke with Gray about how she got her start in wrestling and how she stays on top of her competition.
STACK: What first brought you to the U.S. Olympic Training Center?
Adeline Gray: I started wrestling when I was 6 years old and had some success with it. By high school, I started competing with other females at national events and was doing pretty well. After I turned 13, my dad brought me down to a camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, since Colorado Springs was just an hour from where we lived. Anyway, at the camp I vividly remember this girl was throwing me around, and I was like, Dad! Save Me! She’s beating me up! I was so upset that I didn’t come back to the training center for a month.
Yikes! What brought you back?
Well, my Mom and Dad planted the idea in my head that going back could help me, but they didn’t pressure me into it. When I went back, I still felt like shark bait, and sometimes I’d be sucking air during warm-ups that would last an hour. But one of the neat things about all of this is seeing how you can go from being a very green wrestler to one who sees what it takes to succeed, and then being able to go and do that. Now when I see young girls coming in here, I’m like, Aww, I was you. It’s going to get better, I promise.
The girl who threw me around that first day? Her name is Leigh Jaynes. Today, I have 45 pounds on her and beat up on her on a regular basis. But one of the reasons I’m successful now is because of that moment.
So what’s a typical day like for you nowadays?
The days here are pretty full. On most days we do two workouts. On Mondays and Fridays, we wrestle in the morning and lift at night. Tuesdays and Thursdays are our “double mat” days, in which we drill in the morning and do live wrestling at night. Wednesdays and Saturdays are wrestle-lift days, but those sessions tend to be shorter and more focused on recovery. On Sunday, you can take the day off or do your own cardio.
Sounds like a lot of demands on your body. How do you stay healthy?
During our strength training sessions, we do a lot of prehab. Or we’ll do a challenging Olympic lift followed by a shoulder or core stabilization move, so we know that our muscles are firing correctly. There’s a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping our bodies working. Before coming here, I’d never trained this hard this consistently. We’re doing six practice days a week and lifting like it’s the off-season.
What keeps you working so hard?
During that same first camp, an Olympic swimmer—unfortunately, I forget her name—had us all write, “I want to be an Olympic champion in wrestling” on a piece of paper. I’d never before thought about that—being an Olympic Champion—as being real. Then one strong female came and said, You can do this. I still have that piece of paper. It’s what I work for every day.
Gray says that the team’s Friday weightlifting sessions are challenging both physically and mentally, because they come at the end of a demanding week of training. “You know that your body isn’t there,” Gray says. Athletes have to dig deep to complete the session.
The following three-move circuit is an example of the type of routine wrestlers at the U.S. Olympic Training Center do to keep their bodies and their minds in top condition. Perform the moves back-to-back-to-back for 5 rounds, resting for 60 seconds between circuits.
Stay up on Gray’s quest for Olympic Gold by following her on Twitter @AdelineGray.