I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason… I am still trying to figure out my current situation at the moment. Commonwealth Games was an amazing experience for most. Unfortunately for me, that was not the case.
This blog is not about me making excuses. Nor is it about who I wrestled. It is more about being DEFEATED in every sense of the word.
Imagine if you worked so hard on something, only for it to crumble beneath you. Imagine if you sacrificed everything in your life for this goal… and when it comes around you freeze and there is nothing you can do about it. And imagine if you felt like just giving up cause everything felt pointless. Well I was there, I still am - and it sucks!
Commonwealth Games is usually such an amazing time for athletes. The vibe, the village, the food and the home crowd cheering your name in the stands. It’s a dream come true. Don’t get me wrong, I loved everything about it, but when people ask me how it was, I can only focus on the negatives - my performance on the day.
Leading up, I had all the confidence in the world. I had done everything in my right mind to be the best I could be, physically and mentally. I picked up and moved overseas. I left everything behind to get the best training I possibly could. In my honest opinion I had the best competition preparation I could’ve ever imagined. Hey, even on the day during my warm up, I felt on top of the world, too. But something changed… something on that mat had changed and that’s when everything turned.
For me, I have always had a complex with my first matches. Every major competition I’ve been to, I’ve lost the first match - Commonwealth Games, World Championships, Youth Olympics, Olympic Qualifiers…. I’ve unfortunately lost my first matches in all of them, even though at some events, I ended up finishing very well. But I thought this time would be different. I had a fairly “weak” country for my first match. Everyone thought “Yes! this will be a great warm up for you” and I thought the same way. But when the spotlight was on me and I shook the opponents hand, I froze. I don’t know why. But I froze…
As the whistle blew, it’s like everything I learnt in my years of wrestling disappeared. I attacked but no matter what I was trying to do, my body was not cooperating. I started to get frustrated with myself and started going for stupid attacks but before I knew it, the match was over. The other’s person hand was raised, not mine. I had lost my first match at the Commonwealth Games.
Walking off stage, I hung my head low. It was hard to look up at the crowd knowing that my family and friends were up there watching. As I exited out into the athlete warm-up area, I felt really sick. I felt like I was going to throw up. I collapsed to the side of the wall, hitting my head and as my body slid down landing straight on the floor. I am lucky I had a team mate observe me while this all happened. She picked me up and literally almost carried me to our designated Australian change-room. My head was spinning and my body was weak. As I got to the area she handed me a bucket and I threw up everything. Right in front of all my opponents. Everything I ate and drank that morning was now gone. And all my opponents saw me at my weakest. I had no energy, felt like rubbish and felt like just giving up. Everyone tried to get me to stand, but every time I did, I collapsed back down. I was ready to forfeit everything. Everything that I worked so hard for I was ready to give away. How in the world could I get back up when I couldn’t even stand up. But my team mate told me “Don’t give up… You didn’t work this damn hard for nothing!”. My name was called not long after and it was my turn to wrestle again.
I don’t remember much of my second match to be quite honest. The only thing I can remember is trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get through it. Whilst waiting in the stand-by area, I just wanted to sit down and not go through with this but my coached kept me standing as he repeated “Just try and move, don’t let your opponent see how you are”. But I was defeated, in every sense of the word.
I got out there and just blanked, again. Before I knew it, the match was over. I walked backstage again to our change rooms and just shook my head. I felt that same disappointment again, not only have I disappointed my family and friends who travelled far and wide to see me compete but myself, and for me, that's worse.
I had a few other matches that day, but honestly can’t remember much about them either. But at the end of the day, I remember who was there to pick me up when I literally couldn’t stand. I will never forget that.
My wrestling day was over and regardless of how everything went, the only thing I wanted to do was see my loved ones. I was upset, I was disappointed and angry at myself but I knew that they would of been supportive and proud regardless of the result. I know they would change my horrible day.
I stepped outside and started making my way down the stairs, one step at time. They were waiting at the bottom for me with a massive sign that said “GO CARISSA GO!”. The further down the staircase I got, the more my emotions were going crazy. As soon as I greeted them all and went in for hug, I bursted in tears. I broke and I don’t know why. I was just overwhelmed with emotion. But they made me feel better, they made me feel like home. Something that I didn’t have for so long because of my travelling and preparation leading up to the Games. Having them around helped me settle and forget. Made me realise how amazing everyone in my life is.
Post Commonwealth Games
A month later, the Games are done and dusted. However, when people ask me “How was the Commonwealth Games?!” I still feel the disappointed. The same disappointment that I felt back when I was competing, if not worse. The only thing I remember are the negatives and how I didn’t achieve the result that I wanted. It hurts, it really hurts! But the only thing I have to keep me going is the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’. Yes, it didn’t go the way I hoped, but it shouldn’t stop me to achieve what I want for the future. I need to use this as my fuel, my fire and my reason to be better in all aspects in my life.
Since then, I’ve been able to enjoy the little things in life - My loved ones, my friends, my other hobbies and even my food! But most of all, I found the most incredible job that I could’ve ever hoped for to help me get over my “grieving” in a sense. Not only do I get to change other people lives but they change mine and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to do so.
For now, I’m living in the present moment and trying to focus on my own happiness and life. I am still training, but purely for the love of it, not for anything more. When I am ready I will compete again, and I am excited to see where I’ll go. But for now, I am enjoying being able to be able to share the love I have for this sport to others, and hopefully create future wrestler champions in my home country.