Fight vs. Anastasiya Napianidi
Fight vs. Anastasiya Napianidi - IFMA World Championships Finals - May 9, 2014 Langkawi, Malaysia
I think that most of you have already heard the news, but if you haven't hen let me be the first to tell you that I WON!! That is right, I won the World Championships by beating Russia!
I still don't really believe it...and I think I thought that if I won I would feel like a different person, but I don't. Just the same old Kelsey but with a gold medal around my neck.
It was a pretty surreal last couple of days. I was all geared up to fight in the final match on May 8th as that was what was on the schedule. The night of the 7th I started my cut and then at about 12:30pm Janice came to tell me that all the A Division finals were moved to May 9th, the last day of the tourney.
I was disappointed because I wanted to fight, but I think it was a blessing in disguise because my legs needed an extra day of rest. In my fight against the Aussie I kneed her in the elbow hard and I was having trouble bending my right knee. The extra day gave me more time to ice and roll so by the time May 9th came it was good to go.
The days before the fight were a mental challenge as everyone was in party mode so staying focused was the biggest challenge, especially when you still have to be strict with water and your diet. Physically I felt great. I had an amazing last day of pads with Trevor on the 8th and I felt extremely rested, powerful and dialed in which was awesome because it is SOOOOO hot here and you kinda always feel like you are dying.
The night before the final, Trevor and I watched the semi-final match of Russia vs Finland that Nate had taped for me. The Russian won. She has a really bouncy style, trying to bait you into moving to her by keeping her hands low and being awkward. The Finnish girl bought into her tricks and started to copy her style and as soon as she did, Russia would attack. The Russian was also very good moving backwards...she has a killer long right teep (despite being short) and she likes to fight off of the ropes.
The game plan was simple. Stay calm, look at her chest and fight my style of fight. Don't buy into her shenanigans, stay aggressive and wear her out.
I had a hard time sleeping the night before the fight between cutting weight and thinking about the fight. I think I slept for 4 hours and then was up at 6am to finish my cut. To my surprise, after only 30mins of sweating I was on weight! A huge score in the energy departments. Mark MacKinnon, the other Canadian fighting in the finals, gave me a lift on his scooter and we headed to weigh ins. Then we both ate massive breakfasts and went and had naps while our teammates explored the island.
I was getting quite antsy and agitated because I didn't know when my team would be back or when everyone wanted to head to the venue. My biggest fear of the day was missing my fight so I was relieved when everyone returned and we headed to the venue. It was a long wait once we got there because they were taking breaks after 4 or 5 fights to do medal presentations....and the organizers didn't tell us that before hand so we waited around for a long time. Finally....after much waiting it was time to great ready. 5 fights out - get rubbed down with thai liniment, 4 fights out - shadow box, 3 fights out - light pads, 2 fights out- get gear and hit another round, 1 fight out - hang out on deck and hit 1 more light round.
I was super nervous and super calm all at once. I knew if I executed the game plan I would be successful but I was starting to feel magnitude of what I was about to do. Kru Trevor and Kru Rhino know exactly how to communicate to me before a fight to keep me confident and relaxed an usually that is enough but the finals was a whole other ball game. Everything was amped up....we had a dramatic entrance with a spotlight, music and a long walk out. Usually once I get in the ring my nerves calm but that day they did not. I could feel my hands shaking in my gloves...I had decided that day that I would perform the Wai Khru because I really wanted to do it, I figured now was as good a time as any AND because my teammate Janice says it really helps her to stay calm. So for the first time ever, I did it! Janice was right....by the time I was done, my nerves were settled and I was ready to rock!
The fight was an absolute blast! The Russian came out as we thought she would and I stayed calm and did what we had planned. The crowd was roaring and it was an absolutely magical experience. The Russians were chanting " RUSS-I-AAA" loudly and my Canadian teammates countered with "KELS-E-AAA" in an epic cheating battle that I could totally hear! I took the first two rounds convincingly.
When I sat down in the corner between the 2nd and 3rd rounds I could see the happiness in Kru Trevor's eyes and I knew I was close. He told me to keep the pressure on and it was mine. When I stood up everything hit me at once and I was like "holy shit if am fighting for a world title here......everything I have worked so hard for comes down to this moment" and I got sooooo amped and I think my heart exploded into a thousand smiles. I finished the round hard and then was completely overcome with emotion. I gave a huge hug to both Kru Trevor and Kru Rhino, thanked Russia and her corner and then went to the middle of the ring for the decision. I was so excited that I forgot what corner I was and when they announced "the winner in the blue corner......" I thought I had lost for a split second. But then I heard "CANADA" and my heart exploded into a MILLION smiles. If I could bottle that feeling and feel it everyday I would.
I found my team and hugged them, found my husband and we both burst into tears and hugged and then walked out of the staging area arm and arm with my great friend and coach Trevor. All I wanted to do was go celebrate but I was whisked away to doping for drug testing...never have I been so anxious to produce 100ml of urine in my life. After 3 bottles of water, the medal ceremony (in which they cut off the end of the National Anthem right as I was about to sing the loudest!!) and some jumping up and down and pressing on my bladder I was free to see my friends and family and celebrate!!
Holding that Maple leaf flag over my head and knowing that I took home that medal for me, Kru Trevor, Kru Rhino, my family, my teammates, my friends and my country was a dream come true for me. I have dreamed of representing Canada since I was a kid and I finally got the chance to see that dream fulfilled. I cannot thank my coaches, team, training partners, family and friends and supporters enough for helping me achieve this. Everyone played a part in this journey and I am truly blessed to have so many people in my life that stood behind me and believed in me. I can never repay all of you for love and support that everyone has given me but I will do my best.
A very special thank you to two fellas in my life who are the main reasons I was a able to make it here. First my great friend and coach Kru Trevor Smandych, who believed in me from day 1 and invested as much time and energy into getting me prepared for this as I did. Trevor has a gift for coaching and I am so fortunate to fight for him. He inspires me to be the best fighter that I can be and is there every step of the way to help get me there. I hope this is just the beginning of a awesome Muay Thai journey and I couldn't think of a better person to have in my corner. From the bottom my heart Trev, thank you : )
Second is my amazing husband Nathan who supports me during the times in my life I am not training...which is by far the hardest job. He puts up with all my crazy shit aka "the Kelsey Show", let me be a boring athlete robot for the last 3 months as I prepared for this tournament and didn't complain about it, tapes my ice to me, provides excellent snuggles when I am tied and tucks me into bed when I am so gassed I can barely make it in myself. He pours a mean Epsom salt bath and he managed to take Stenia completely off my hands so I wasn't worrying about work at all. Thank you so much sweetie. I love you so much!