USA Wrestling

Sanderson knows his time will come at the Titan Games

By John Fuller | Jan. 09, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
Cael Sanderson wants to be on top of the world, and after two years of disappointment following the postponement of the 2001 World Championships and the U.S. decision not to attend the 2002 World Championships, his biggest stage will come at the Titan Games in San Jose, Calif., Feb. 14-15. "My time will come and hopefully I am prepared for it," Sanderson said during a teleconference Monday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Sanderson has begun training for the new event presented by the United State Olympic Committee (USOC). The Titan Games will feature the sports of wrestling, boxing, weightlifting, karate, taekwondo, fencing and shot put all in the same arena. Sports will be competed at the same time, fulfilling the ultimate fan experience. Teams from Russia and Cuba will be flown in to compete against top teams of U.S. stars in both men's freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Sanderson is expected to compete against Adam Saitiev of Russia and Yoel Romero of Cuba, both World medalists in 2002, at 84 kg/185 lbs. Saitiev was an Olympic champion in 2000 and won World titles in 1999 and 2002. Romero was an Olympic silver medalist in 2000 and a World Champion in 1999 as well. Saitiev defeated Romero 4-3 in overtime in the gold medal match at the 2002 World Championships. "The wrestlers from Russia and Cuba are the top two wrestlers at my weight and it will show me what I need to work on and where I'm at. I'm just looking at this like any other match. It just so happens that the two guys I'm competing against are World and Olympic champions," Sanderson said. "This is a great way to gauge where I am at." Sanderson now seems to be in full training mode now that he has had time to rest from the end of his perfect 159-0 collegiate wrestling career at Iowa State Univ. Part of Sanderson's resting period came due to the U.S. decision not to attend the 2002 World Championships in Tehran, Iran due to a credible threat to the U.S. delegation. "Time off was more important for me. The four years I competed in the NCAA took more out of me than I wanted. I needed a break to refocus and get that drive back," Sanderson said. With the break, says Sanderson, comes disadvantages as well, such as scouting. Sanderson said he would have enjoyed wrestling in the World Championships before any of the top wrestlers in the world had a chance to scout him on videotape, but after competing in the Kurt Angle Classic against 2001 World Champion Khadsimurad Magomedov of Russia, he seems positive that his opponents have seen him wrestle. "I think the wrestling world is pretty close-knit. I've heard that they know things about my style of wrestling," Sanderson said of his future international opponents. "I was looking forward to competing in the Worlds before anyone had tape on me, but now it's different. So I'm sure they know about me now." The Titan Games will also hold a "Night of Champions", where past gold medalists from six different sports will be honored, including wrestling legend Dan Gable, making this a special event all-around. "We wanted to look at top teams that the U.S. could compete against in preparation for Athens. So what you have is the cream of the crop here by invitation only," state Steve Brunner, Director of NGB Marketing for the USOC. "We're trying to give a platform for athletes like Cael to prepare for the competition at Athens." Brunner and Dean Munroe, Executive Director of the San Jose Sports Authority, agreed that San Jose was a perfect fit for this event as well. "Because of the predominantly Hispanic-American and Asian-American population in this area, we felt it was a perfect fit for the events we wanted to host as well as the great competition we wanted to bring in internationally. This is the cream of the crop and it is an elite field by invitation, unlike events like the World Cup or World Championships," Bruner added. "This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for sports fans in the Bay Area," Munroe said. "This event was not put through a bid process, which we feel says a lot about our past and the great history of the USOC. We feel a sense of privilege for being selected to host this event." Following the Titan Games, Sanderson is scheduled to compete at the Kiev Grand Prix in Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 21-22. Tickets for the Titan Games will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the San Jose Box Office or any Bay Area Ticketmaster locations. To contact the San Jose Box Office, call (408) 998-TIXS. For more information on the Titan Games, visit www.usolympicteam.com/TitanGames. TheMat.com will also provide updates and complete coverage of the Titan Games.
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