FEATURE Olympic medalist Miranda returning to competition at NYAC Holiday Championships

By Gary Abbott | Nov. 17, 2005, 12 a.m. (ET)
The New York Athletic Club Holiday Championships will mark the return to the mats of 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Patricia Miranda (New Haven, Conn./Sunkist Kids). After more than a year away from the sport, Miranda has decided that she still has goals and dreams as an athlete.

Her life has changed considerably since she stood on the medal podium in Athens, Greece, with a bronze medal at the 48 kg/105.5 lbs. division in women's freestyle wrestling. She is no longer living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. concentrating on Olympic wrestling. Miranda is now a second-year law student at Yale University in Connecticut.

"Stated simply, this is how I want to spend a few more years of my young life," said Miranda, who is 25 years old. "I love to train and compete, believe I can do it better this time around, and am willing to find out if I am right. So here I am."

Miranda will test herself for the first time on Sunday, November 20 at the world famous New York Athletic Club in New York City. She will wrestle up at the next weight division, 51 kg/112.25 lbs. in her return to competition.

After concentrating on her legal studies and spending some time coaching other athletes, Miranda has a new perspective on the sport.

"This is what I chose to do," said Miranda. "I had a break from wrestling. I had a chance to think about it, and discover if I wanted to try it again and do it better this time. There was a piece of wrestling I did not achieve. I did not attain a level where I performed above my head. I want to know if I can hit the next level with my wrestling."

Things are different this time around. Miranda no longer is training every day with other Olympic-calibre women wrestlers, with regular instruction from the national coaching staff. She is attending classes, studying hard, and finding additional time to work out and prepare for wrestling. It is a whole new challenge, one that she is excited to take on.

"It won't be the easiest thing I have ever done, but sure things are often not worth doing, right?" Miranda said. "The truth is, if it all works out, it will be made possible by the help of great people. Foremost is my husband and coach, Levi Weikel-Magden, who prepares my wrestling, running, and lifting workouts, finds me my partners and workout mats, among many things. The Sunkist Kids, USA Wrestling and its national coaching staff, and Yale Law School are making training away from the Olympic Training Center possible. I am very lucky person who looks forward to earning the assistance and kindness that I am receiving."

Miranda has been working out with members of the Yale wrestling club, as well as with local high school wrestlers in Connecticut. In addition, Olympic teammate Tela O'Donnell is now living in the region and is an occasional workout partner. Miranda is also working out with a variety of women wrestlers who travel to visit with her for specific training purposes.

"I have learned that that training and competing is a privilege, that I want this privilege and that my next step in my wrestling is to supplement superior preparation with freedom on the mat," she said.

Miranda announced her comeback to wrestling this past weekend on a national wrestling radio show, Takedown Radio, which is moderated by Scott Casber.

Miranda was the first woman athlete in the history of the Olympic Games to win a wrestling medal, when she captured the bronze medal match in Athens, competing in the first medal match of the competition. Women's wrestling was included in the Olympic Games for the first time at the 2004 Athens Games.

Miranda was named 2004 Woman of the Year by USA Wrestling, the national governing body for amateur wrestling. In addition to her great achievements on the mat, prior to and during the Olympic Games, Miranda was the subject of numerous media reports on the national level, including respected national magazines, newspapers, television shows and radio broadcasts.

Miranda was also a two-time World silver medalist, and a 2003 Pan American Games gold medalist. She competed at Stanford Univ., where she earned degrees in economics and international policy. Miranda attended Saratoga High School in California, where she was also on the wrestling team.

Things are not only different in her life right now, but Miranda expects that there will be changes in her wrestling style as well. The New York Athletic Club Holiday Championships will be the first step in the new phase of her wrestling career, one that she is hoping with bring new levels of achievement and experience to her life.