10 Questions for U S Nationals champion Patricia Miranda

By John Fuller | May 29, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
2002-03 Team USA Ranking: No. 1 at 48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Years on Team USA: 5 (1998-00, 2002-04)
Residence: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Club: Dave Schultz WC
College: Stanford Univ.
High School: Saratoga, Calif.
Born: June 11, 1979 in Manteca, Calif.
Height: 5-0

1. You recorded three pins at the U.S. Nationals along with one technical fall. Did you expect to dominate this tournament so much?

Miranda: I didn't expect much, but I think that's because I don't focus on the outcomes of matches. When I visualize my opponents, it's more about my effort level and making sure I am leaving it all out there at the end of the match. I was surprised by the outcomes, but not because I didn't expect to do well, but more because I don't prepare for outcomes.

2. Now that you have begun to have a good taste of international competition, is it hard to gear yourself up for major U.S. tournaments like the nationals or the World Team Trials?

Miranda: Not at all. I think that's my personality. I tend to overestimate, rather than underestimate, people in general. Every match is an opportunity to do something I haven't done before. Any time there are two wrestlers going at it with the ref and some fans, that creates the drive in me to compete, whether it be international or domestic.

3. Last year you did not place at the World Championships after winning a silver medal in 2000. To what would you attribute your losses at the Worlds last year?

Miranda: I think one thing that has helped me with the Worlds is owning that loss and taking responsibility for that loss. I don't think there is an excuse or any easy thing I could point to. I wasn't prepared and the result was indicative of that. Mainly I wasn't mentally prepared. It's better to put it out there and have lost than losing without risking it. I lost and I was a little tired. That was real turning point. Even though it really hurt to lose, I wouldn't change that for the world. I think that has helped me become a better wrestler.

4. Since that time, you have been dominant in both the U.S. and on the international level. What has changed for you since last year's World Championships?

Miranda: Viewing wrestling as not being a threat. It was all how I perceived the sport. It is not something about having to keep my title. Before, each time I went out there is a chance to fail. People never get to see how far they can excel in their passion. I have basically been handed that. Viewing it more as a gift is how I alleviate pressure. This is my opportunity. It's about exploring, not about hanging on to what I've already done.

5. You have been accepted into the Yale Law School for when you are done training for the Olympics. With both being an Olympic champion and completing law school being major goals for you, was it hard to put one ahead of the other?

Miranda: My dad would say yes. It wasn't that hard when the decision came. I am sort of blessed that I get to do both. If I had to do one or the other, it would have been a harder decision. But because I can do both, it was a no-brainer. I was able to compete in college and keep up with the academics at high levels, but I felt like if I wanted to get to that elite level of either one, I would have to focus more on just one. It's a matter of respecting the goal enough to commit to it.

6. What have you been able to improve on since you became a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center?

Miranda: The obvious answer is freestyle. At Stanford, training with men, I could do some freestyle after practices, but it was mainly a collegiate focus. It has helped me with my timidness. I have always been an aggressive wrestler, but at Stanford, I was always smaller and a little weaker. When I would go out against someone my size and strength, I was timid because I was so used to getting squashed all the time. Now I get to actually train aggressively. It's not out of the ordinary for me to dominate someone, but at Stanford it was really weird.

7. As one of the leader's of the U.S. squad over the past year, have you noticed an improvement in the technical skills of the U.S. women?

Miranda: Definitely. Terry Steiner is above average on technique. Just having a full-time coach that is giving us attention on technique is a big help. He watches our tapes and is slowly, but surely, filling in the gaps in our wrestling. It's just basic technique that women hadn't picked up on. We had always been add-ons to most of our wrestling teams. We didn't have the basics much before a coach started paying attention to it.

8. Is there anyone in the U.S. right now that you think can dethrone you?

Miranda: Wrestling is a great sport. Hard work can make up for a lot of things. On any given day, anybody can win. All I can do is ensure that the things I can control, how hard I work, how smart I work and how focused I am, are at the best they can be. Can somebody beat me? Yeah. They are going to have to fight really hard. They are going to have to go through hell and back to do it.

9. When 2004 is done, whether you make the Olympic team or not, do you plan to retire or could there still be a future for you?

Miranda: Terry is working on me. He is pushing for the six years. I do think that even if I do come back and wrestle through 2008, I want to believe that I am only going through 2004. I am going to train so hard that I want to never train again after 2004. If I do go through 2008, there will be some sort of break time. I have to go do something with my brain. I have to believe that I am going to walk away because that is the only way I can sustain my level of training right now. This way it is like only having one shot at this goal.

10. Who was the wrestler you looked up to the most growing up?

Miranda: Growing up, I never really thought much about the sport of wrestling. I liked doing it and that is how I got into it, not through another wrestler. I have focused so much on my own training since then that it has been hard to pay attention to other wrestlers that closely.