Aden Attao: ‘Meant to Be Here’ & ‘Not Going Anywhere’

aden attao, 130 kg, interview
Aden Attao -- Photo: Richard Immel

It is easy to define wrestlers by their allotment of accolades, or by their most prestigious results. This is what we like to do. And there is nothing wrong with it. A fun exercise. Enthused conversational fodder. Wrestlers, they might be humans, but they are also topics. They appear in data sheets, the numbers associated with their endeavors rendering pictures of how they should be viewed. Equally subject to examination and discussion, wrestlers provide reason for study, for comparing and contrasting. For hypotheses and testing.

So here is a hypothesis: Aden Attao (130 kg, Beaver Dam RTC) has logged some glossy stats thus far at the ripe old age of 19, but shoehorning him into any data-driven category is a waste of time.

That’s because Attao does the work for you. He is in a category of his own making and there is nothing available in his boxscores which do his abilities justice.

Attao cannot be defined by results. Performances, yes, but not results. Most in the United States are aware of the hard figures. The U20 World bronze medal from 2022, the numerous Fargo National titles, two Pan-Am golds, his high school highlights, and his earning of a spot on the US National Team last month at the Olympic Trials. Most recently, Attao won the US Open in the U20 division for Greco-Roman, again, and placed 4th in legs. That tournament was less than one week after the aforementioned Olympic Trials.

Read that again: just short of a week following the Olympic Trials, Attao “doubled-up” to wrestle both styles at the U20 Nationals. And because he is blessed with such skill, Attao very nearly made the freestyle finals even though everyone is well-aware that he is a “Greco-first” competitor.

Which is, indeed, the word you use to define Attao — competitor. Although he admits to a desire for delivering entertainment, the truth of the matter is that Attao’s love for big throws in Greco-Roman is trumped only by his will to win. To firmly grasp the concept, one must bypass any and all conventional thought with regards to the sport. It’s too confining, too rigid. Instead, the way to see Attao is that Greco-Roman represents the most effective (and enjoyable) method in which he expresses competitiveness.

not all roads lead to gold, parent edition, jim gruenwald

He can thank several people for that, perhaps, including his parents. One man he can definitely thank is Ivan Ivanov, under whom Attao learned firsthand virtually everything he would need to know when it came to training, discipline, technique, and attitude. A product of Ivanov’s vaunted Suples system, the Idaho native cannot help but expound upon the relative wrestling virtues he has gleaned from Ivanov and Mitko Georgiev over the past decade. Attao’s supportive parents are, you would think, the reason why the young man is exceedingly kind, respectful, and deferential. Meanwhile, Ivanov is, one would think, the reason why Attao is an aggressive, dedicated, and versatile beast of a competitor. It drips from every one of his sentences whenever Ivanov’s name is involved, and all the more evident in his take-no-prisoners approach to the opposition.

Matthew 20 Graphic v2

There is more, of course. Plenty more. Plenty more opportunities to grow and to compete, and to keep pushing the boundaries of what he can do. In fact, coming up quickly is a particular appointment of significance. This coming weekend, Attao will take the mat at the U20 World Team Trials. He plans on suiting up for both Greco-Roman (where he will have a bye to the best-of-three finals) and freestyle. Ambitious is he, aiming to pull double-duty at the Worlds later in the summer. Whatever happens at the World tournament, next will come Oregon State University, to whom he committed last year. Attao took his Olympic redshirt this past season but NCAA concerns will occupy his time soon enough. Greco people in the US wish that they could keep Attao on a full-time basis. Naturally, that is what they want. Who could blame them? But they also needn’t worry, either. Attao is a Greco-first athlete, through and through. And as he himself says, he isn’t going anywhere. He has only just begun.

5PM Interview with Aden Attao

5PM: Let’s go all the way back. When did you start wrestling, and start taking it seriously?

Aden Attao: I started wrestling around the age of like 7 or 8. But, honestly, I wasn’t taking it seriously yet because I was just a little kid. I was just trying to have fun and still trying to be a kid. I didn’t start taking it seriously until probably about 10 or 12-ish. Then I stopped every other sport. It was like, Wrestling’s going to be the spot that’s going to take me the most places. This is what I want to do. This is what I want to get good at, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life and try and accomplish these goals I set for myself. It was when I started dreaming of becoming an Olympic champ. I had talked to Ivan (Ivanov) and Mitko (Georgiev) about it and they basically said, ‘You’re not going to win the Olympics unless you focus on this wholeheartedly’. So then that’s when I was like, Alright, well then I guess we’re going to focus on this wholeheartedly and hopefully win the Olympics eventually

5PM: Did you play any other sports?

AA: I played just about everything growing up — football, basketball, soccer, taekwondo, and judo. Really, it was wrestling and football. Those were the sports that really stuck with me for the longest time but wrestling was ultimately the one that kind of took over where it was, Yeah, this is what I want to do.

5PM: As a big kid, you never went back to football?

AA: No, not really. Everyone thinks that I’ve always been a heavyweight. I really wasn’t. My freshman year I was 5’1 and 145 pounds. I like to say that I was a short little chubby kid because that’s what I was. But then I had a growth spurt. It came during COVID, during quarantine. I hit a growth spurt and bumped up to around 5’10 and between 205 and 215 pounds. But yes, there was a contemplation of, Do I really want to go back and play football? You know, just to give it one last go and have fun with it. But I don’t think in my mind that there was ever really a choice. It was always going to be wrestling, wrestling, wrestling. I tossed around the idea, but I don’t think that it was ever going to change. It was going to be just wrestling.

5PM: How did you find you way to Suples, to Ivan?

Aden Attao: I was at this little club called Bearcats. It was my first-ever club. It was one of those beginner clubs. We trained after school, it was fun, but it was for kids who didn’t know if they really wanted to do this. Then once I had begun thinking, I actually want to do this, my parents started to look around for clubs and we landed on Suples. At that time, they were coaching some of the best wrestlers in the state like Jon Jay Chavez and Hayden Tuma. Guys like them. My dad — as he says in the video when I moved — saw the discipline Suples instilled in their athletes and that was what he wanted for me. Yes, Suples was my decision as far as staying with them all this time, but it was my parents who were the reason why I started with Suples. They wanted me to learn the discipline and dedication it takes to become a top-notch level wrestler. To become one of those dudes who doesn’t want to just be ‘okay’ at the sport, but wants to be the best.

5PM: You were obviously wrestling folkstyle mainly, yet you were being coached by the man many consider to be the best Greco-Roman coach in American history. What were practices like at Suples during folkstyle season as you were preparing for that type of competition. You weren’t preparing for Greco yet, or at least not until the spring. How did that work?

AA: You can ask Ivan but I’ll say it right now: he doesn’t care about folkstyle. To him, it was, We’re training Greco year-round, we’re always going to be working on our Greco techniques. If we asked him, then we could work on some folkstyle stuff; but most of the time, it was working on Greco techniques and figuring out how to implement those into our folkstyle. For instance, figuring out how to leverage an underhook into a shot, or a two-on-one into a shot. Stuff like that. If you were in high school, Ivan would always say (imitates Ivan’s Bulgarian accent) “You train here to wrestle Greco. You can go to your high school to wrestle folkstyle” (laughs). That is an exact quote from him.

5PM: It’s one thing for Greco to translate over to folkstyle, because it does. But not quite as much the other way around. Did you find for yourself elements of folkstyle that translated over to Greco?

AA: For sure. I would say cardio-wise. A seven-minute match is a long time. That is a lot of wrestling in a small area in what people think is a short amount of time, but it’s not. It is a long time for a wrestling match. I would also say for spatial awareness just because if I was close to the edge, then I’d know that I have to finish in-bounds. That was big in high school and in freestyle to an extent. Then also my scrambling ability from folkstyle became immensely better because I was able to just blow through positions that I would never really get into during a Greco or freestyle match. It would really help me to figure out how where to place my hand, move my hips, or this, that, and the other. It made my scrambling better overall.

5PM: Even though during high school you were training at what basically is a Greco club, was there ever a time when you considered focusing on freestyle? Because you’re excellent at that, too.

AA: No. I’m obviously good at freestyle and good at folkstyle, but no. There was never a time when I thought, I might switch styles. And it’s not even just from being coached at a club that is mainly Greco. It’s just me. I’ve always loved Greco so much more than the other two. So it was never a question of Do I want to switch styles? It has always been How can I implement Greco into these styles? I was never on the fence about switching styles. It was always, I don’t want to shoot, I don’t want to have to defend my legs. It’s so much easier when it is just half your body and you can just throw people. It’s just so much easier that way. Greco has always been the style that really stuck with me, and I’ve always wanted to do Greco.

5PM: You had won a Fargo National title three times. After having competed overseas, and rather successfully, do you see Fargo differently than before?

AA: Not really. I have been working a lot on my mindset recently and going into every tournament saying, It’s just a match, because it is all the same thing. The first year I did it, I was like, I’m on a World Team, these kids shouldn’t touch me, and so forth. But, especially last year when I won Fargo, it was, It’s just another tournament. I was tired because I had just returned from Pan-Ams, but it was, It’s just another tournament. I’ve got to show up, show out, and show why I deserve to represent the US at Worlds. That is really the main thing, especially now but even back then. I try not to treat any tournament differently. I try to do the same thing over and over again. To build that attitude as a habit. Sure, it’s a tournament, but it’s nothing bigger than I’ve already been to.

5PM: How about stylistically? Competitively, you might see one event the same as another. But in terms of how the sport is contested, did the differences between domestic Greco and international Greco start to pop out more to you?

Aden Attao: 100%. Europeans wrestle very slow, get a step-out… Unless par terre is involved, matches are not going to end in a tech. Americans, we like big throws, to make the match fast. I like to say that, stylistically, I try to combine both by being explosive when I need to be. When there is a time to close off and be smart, I’m able to do that. But stylistically at Fargo, I was able to see the differences between Junior Americans and Junior Europeans, and even Asians to an extent.

5PM: When it comes to the 2022 U20 Worlds, I figure that you more than most, or certainly just as much as others, knew what to expect from this tournament just based on who coached you. What were you told, by Ivan or anyone else, what to expect?

AA: I was still talking to people but I kind of slowed down all communication with a lot of people. This was right in the heat of when I was being recruited. These colleges, and I still have really good relationships with a lot of these kids and coaches, but I would tell a lot them that I wasn’t going to respond because I needed to lock-in for the tournament. Be mad, whatever, but I’m trying to win a World medal. It was like that. These coaches understood it and were like, We want what’s best for you. I don’t know if that’s the recruiting aspect of what they were trying to do or not, if they truly did want me to win a World medal and want what’s best for me. I’ll never know.

Mitko was like, ‘Good luck, you got this, we’re praying for you. Ivan called me and said, “Don’t get in your head. You’ve trained for this your whole life. I’ve tapered you properly and you are in the best possible scenario that you can be in. Just go out and be great.” And in that tournament, specifically, I had Ike (Anderson), who is the Sunkist coach, and Zac Dominguez, who is both MWC and NYAC coach. Those two, even to this day, they are two of my favorite coaches to currently have in my corner. And they were both like, Go out, wrestle, and have fun. Go put on a show, be entertaining. This is your first time at Worlds and you’re 17. Nobody wants to lose to you, these kids have everything to lose. You have nothing to lose. Go out there, be aggressive, be smart, and wrestle your butt off.

Sure, I had been on big stages before. Fargo, Pan-Ams a couple months before… There was really nothing like Worlds. Even though there weren’t as many fans as Fargo had, it is the thought of being at Worlds that is going to get you, right? So I walked up for that first match against India (Parvesh Parvesh) and was like, This is the World Championships. Do I deserve to be here? Sure, I won Trials, but it was, Am I up to the caliber of these kids? And I went out and forced a stupid headlock. I got it, but he rolled me through. Whatever. I ended up tech’ing him. I get off the mat, take a deep breath, and I look at Ike and Dominguez. They’re like, You good now? I was like, I’m ready. I’m meant to be here.

I go out there and just keep wrestling my butt off. I would go to see my parents in the stands for a couple minutes in between every match. But outside of that, I was kind of downstairs just chilling with the Team and hanging with those guys. They were just telling me “good luck” but I didn’t really talk to anyone. I was really locked-in for those entire two days that I wrestled. I was really locked-in and no one was going to change that about me. I had come there to win. Even after my loss to Ukraine (Mykhailo Vyshnyvetskyi), Ike asked, “Oh, you’re about to beat the heck out of this next kid, huh?I said, “I feel bad for whoever this next kid is”, and it ended up being Egypt (Fekry Mohamed Eissa).

I proceeded to go out there and just straight put my cardio on him. Gas him, hit him with every technique I had. That did gas him, I ended up tech’ing him, and I got my bronze medal. You can even hear in the interview they did with me after the tournament, how I said that I didn’t know if I had deserved to be there. But once I got that first match out of the way, the first-match jitters, I felt like, Alright, I deserve to be here wrestling the best dudes from their countries and proving why I deserve to be on this World stage, and why I deserve to have this medal.

aden attao, 130 kg, 2022 u20 world bronze medalist
You cannot see his face, but Attao (blue, bottom) was doing just fine as he front headlocked Fekry Mohamed Eissa (EGY) en-route to bronze at the 2022 U20 World Championships in Sofia, BUL. (Photo: UWW)

5PM: It wasn’t just that you earned bronze, or that you earned bronze at 17 in a U20 Worlds. It was also how you won your matches. It was dynamic. It would have still been great even if all of your matches were close. But the headlocks, the throws, the wins over very tough opponents… You understand that was also why people latched onto your performance, right?

AA: Yeah, no, for sure. You can even ask my parents, or really anyone who knows me, I’ve always said since I was a kid that my one goal — and this is the phrase I say before it — is to let it fly. Go out and be entertaining. That’s what I love to do. I love to put on a show and be entertaining. To prove that when people say ‘Oh, Greco is so boring’, that it is ‘No, you’re just watching the wrong people’. Come out and watch my match. It will be entertaining. I will go out there and hopefully entertain you guys. That has always been the goal, it always will be the goal. And if I lose an entertaining match? Yeah, losing stinks, but at least I went out there and did everything I could to win.

5PM: The ’23 Junior Worlds didn’t end how you would have preferred it did. It is a Worlds, it is the toughest competition possible. What did you glean from this experience?

AA: Not to get sick immediately before a tournament.

5PM: Nate Engel had told me in the middle of the tournament that you were really sick.

AA: It was bad. I felt like I was on my deathbed the day before. I went to my parents’ room and they had gone to visit one of the historical places in Jordan. I forgot what it was called. They had gone to do that but then I went to breakfast with them and didn’t even eat a plate. Like, not even a plate, and my mom asked me “Are you okay?” I replied, “No, I do not feel good.” Then I went upstairs and from around 10:00am to 1:00pm, I was curled up on the toilet puking. I was not enjoying my time there at all. I tried to go to sleep. I had drank every 7-Up in there. I had taken all of the medicine that I could and nothing was working. I took a nap. Still didn’t feel great, but a little better. I was able to eat a little bit. Weigh-ins were the next morning. Prior to Worlds, I was walking around between 275, 280-ish. Right? I was 280 the morning before the weigh-ins. Well, when I weighed-in the morning at Worlds, I was 268. I had lost 12 pounds throughout the day before strictly from throwing up. I was just not in a good spot.

It was just such a difficult situation because leading up to the tournament, I had felt good. I had done some recon on my opponents. Some research. I was thinking, Okay, I know what this guy likes to do, what that guy likes to do… I can defend that with this, and so on. I was super in-depth on everything. And getting sick just threw that all out the window. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t recover, I had no strength, and my cardio was shot.

The tournament starts and I go out there. I want to be entertaining, but at a certain point it is just about winning. I beat Japan (Ayumu Iwasawa) 3-1. I was like, This is the most boring match of all time, but whatever. The next match comes and it is against the Hungarian who was the European champ for our age group (Koppany Laszlo). It’s going to be a tough match. I already know it. But I get locked-in and ready. I think I was down something like 5-3. He goes to roll me again, I cover him, and it’s 7-5. Now I want to push the pace. I go duck-to-bodylock for a correct throw. Hungary challenges it, they lose. The score is 8-7 for me and that’s it.

aden attao, 2023 u20 world championships, hun, koppany laszlo
Attao (blue) battles Koppany Laszlo (HUN) at the 2023 U20 World Championships in Amman, JOR. Laszlo last week placed second at the ’24 U23 European Championships, falling to Mykhailo Vyshnyvetskyi of Ukraine in the finals. (Photo: Richard Immel)

And then I can’t recover. My arms were hurting, my forearms were weak. I remember standing there on the verge of puking. I was leaning against the AC vent like, I don’t feel good. I’m still going to go out there and wrestle, obviously, and try to win, because why the heck else would you come to Worlds? Before the break (against Achilleas Chrysidis of Greece), I felt like I was wrestling really well. I was wrestling a smart match and trying to conserve energy — but halfway through the second period I just hit a wall. Step-out, caution 1, step-out, caution 1. I lose the match.

Later, I was at dinner with my parents. I was able to eat but still didn’t feel good at all. It was my parents, Landon Drury and his parents, and Sawyer Bartelt and his parents. Sawyer was checking the brackets to see what was happening. My mom goes, “Maybe Greece will win, maybe Greece will beat China (Wenhao Jiang).” I was like, Greece isn’t beating China, but I hope so. Just as I finished eating, Sawyer said, “Sorry bro, but Greece just got tech’ed by China.” And I just started bawling. I went upstairs to my parents’ room. They came up, too, and asked what was wrong. Greece proceeded to get third the next day. What’s wrong? I lost due to something that was out of my control. If I had lost because I gotten turned, then whatever. If I had lost because of something that was within my control, because of something that I could have done better, then I’m okay with it. But I lost because I was sick and unable to recover and get my cardio back to the way it was. That was the part that broke me.

My parents had said something like, You’ll just go back to practice, and Ivan told me, “We’ll see you at practice.” I responded, “I’m not going to practice for at least two weeks.” Ivan called me, he had looked at me and asked why. I said, “I’m broken mentally, physically.” One, because I was sick; two, because I had such a high goal for Worlds after earning bronze the year before. I had thought, I really can either medal again or I really could win this. I had done recon on the top two dudes, which were the Iranian (Fardin Hedayati) and China (Jiang) and they wrestle the same way. One guy is just bigger so he out-muscles the other one. I was like, I can beat both of these guys. I had done everything in my power to… not lose, basically. And I had felt great leading up to the tournament until I got sick. Then it was just like, Oh my gosh. I was in pain from being sick but it was really the pain of losing, and losing that way. Just not a great feeling. There were a solid couple of hours when it was, Just give me a sec, I’ll talk to you guys later. I can’t do any of this right now.

5PM: How long did it take for you to become re-motivated again?

AA: When I got home, I was still sort of in utter shock about what happened. I was just trying to get healthy again and not be sick. I just tried not thinking about it during the two weeks that I was off. I wanted to spend time with the people I love doing things that I love. Go to the lake, spend time outside. I would say, because I wasn’t really thinking about it, it was just those two weeks. But the moment I got back on the mat, it was, I don’t ever want to feel that again, I don’t ever want to go through that again. This ends now. I’m pushing myself to the brink where if I lose because I over-exert myself, or win because of over-exerting myself, no one is going to exert more of themselves than me. The attitude became more of, I’m either winning this tournament or going out with a bang to prove that I’m here to stay. And it’s not going to be easy to get rid of me.

5PM: With last season bringing on the Olympic year and your taking the Olympic redshirt, when and how did the plan come together for you to train at the OTC (Olympic and Paralympic Training Center)?

Aden Attao: That was kind of the plan from the start. Literally from the get-go I was taking my Olympic redshirt and so it really came down to whether I was going to the OTC or training at home at Suples. As much as I love Ivan and Mitko, the problem was that I didn’t have any partners. That was really the biggest problem. If I would have had a partner, it would have been a much more difficult choice. But I told Ivan, “Coach, I don’t have a partner. I can’t stay here. I need a partner to be able to get better.” They both totally understood and were okay with me coming here. That’s really all it was. I think my residency started here a month before Worlds last year. After Fargo, I had decided that I was going to move to the OTC and train out there full-time for the year.

5PM: You qualified for the Olympic Trials a while back and in March you had your first overseas Senior event, which was Thor Masters in Denmark. It’s my favorite tournament and there you wrestled my favorite non-American heavyweight, Mantas Knystautas. You had a darn good match against him.

AA: Yeah.

5PM: With it being Senior international and not U20, what was your takeaway as to how you stack up?

AA: I will say that I stack up better than I thought I would. I wrestled Mantas, 2021 Senior bronze medalist. Super good dude. I wrestled the German heavyweight, who was a 2017 U23 World bronze medalist. Super good dude, too.

5PM: (Jello) Krahmer.

AA: Yeah. And I thought it was one of those things where it was, These dudes are good and they’re 30-years-old; I’m 19, and I have nothing to lose. So I went out there just like, Let’s see what happens. And I lose to Mantas 3-2. That kind of killed me just in the way I lost. I scored the only offensive point of the match, they put me down twice, he pushed me out once, and I lose 3-2. It was the fact that at the last whistle, I had a front headlock and with 10 more seconds I would have scored. But every match has if’s, and’s, or but’s, right? Then against Krahmer, I didn’t wrestle a really good match. So then it was, Let’s see how I stack up against him in the camp. I go out there and, honestly, the ones who I’m really struggling against are the Hungarian (Dariusz Vitek) and the Estonian…

5PM: Heiki Nabi?

AA: Yeah.

5PM: You understand that he’s a two-time World Champion, right? An Olympic silver medalist… He’s like the fourth most-decorated international wrestler who is still active... You get that, right? I don’t know if I’d beat myself up over that.

AA: Oh, no, for sure. That’s not what I was beating myself up over. The Hungarians… They just wrestle the same way. It’s so annoying because they are so good at it.

I always like this story because it’s true and it almost happened. I almost got into a fight with both Lithuanians, Mantas and the other one…

5PM: (Romas) Fridrickas?

Aden Attao: Yes, because we were doing shark-bait goes and they both scored on me in :15 because they are like, 30-years-old and massive. They’d score on me in :15 and then proceed to think that they were going to just chill, and that I was going to chill and just let them win. And I was like, That’s not happening. That’s just straight-up not going to happen. So I began to push Fridrickas around the mat with front headlocks and by trying moves… I was just bullying him after he scored on me, basically. So then he sort of stands up to me, and I just kept it as, I’m not taking it. You can try to hit me or whatever, but you’re not going to score on me and then think that I am not going to score back. Or at least try to.

That camp really showed me where I was, that I’m not as far off from these Senior guys as I think I am. They had Oskar Marvik, Vitek, the Romanian who just got an Olympic spot (Alin-Alexuc Ciurariu)… I looked, and Thor Masters camp had eight of the top-20 Senior athletes there. And I wasn’t completely getting beat up by any of them. It was nice to see that, Hey, I’m young, but I’m there with these guys. That was really something I needed, that camp in Denmark. Yes, of course you always need to get better and I need to get better, and I know that — but it was nice knowing that I’m not as far away from these guys as I thought I was.

5PM: The Olympic Trials… Our country knows how to put on big wrestling events as far as production is concerned, plus the arena at Penn State was packed for every session it seemed like. You said before how you had been on big stages. What did you think of how the Olympic Trials was presented?

AA: I loved it. It was a fabulous environment. I mean, getting into Penn State was not ideal because you had to fly into either Pittsburgh or Philly, because flights directly into State College were insanely expensive. But outside of that, I thought that Penn State did a really great job hosting the event in a proper way. Everyone loves wrestling in front of thousands of people. It’s entertaining, it’s fun. The atmosphere is electric. You’re in the mecca of wrestling, really, Pennsylvania. When you are thinking of the headquarters for wrestling, you’re thinking PA, Jersey, Cali, places like that. You’re in what you would call “wrestling central”.

I thought it was so cool because even when I wasn’t wrestling and just walking upstairs with my parents, or with friends, I would see people and they’d ask for an autograph or picture because they saw me and knew who I was. I just thought it was a super-cool experience to be able to do that. After I got done wrestling (Courtney Denzel) Freeman and before I wrestled (Adam) Coon, kids wanted autographs and I told them, “I’ll sign this after I wrestle Coon because I need to focus.” Then I lost to Coon and Ike tried to pull me away as I was stepping down from the stage and I said to Ike, “I told these kids. I made a promise. I’m going to keep my promise and I’m going to sign their stuff.” Because I remember being a kid who looked up to these guys. Guys who I looked up to were Robby Smith, (Andy) Bisek, Spenser Mango… Those guys, and I remember being a kid wanting their autographs or pictures. It was just such a cool environment to have it go full-circle with me being that guy. With kids wanting my autograph and that stuff. It was such a super-cool environment and the fans were great. I thought it was a great environment for wrestling in general. Not just for freestyle, but Greco and everything else.

5PM: You might not have beaten Adam in this tournament but you did place 3rd and thereby made the National Team. I always think that making the National Team is a big deal and even bigger when it’s done at an Olympic Trials. How did you assess your own performance from this tournament?

AA: After the fact, I just kind of treated it like any other tournament. Yes, it’s the Olympic Trials, but I went back and watched film and asked, What could I have done better in any of these matches? With Coon it was, Could I have done something better to make this match last longer? Could I have done something to make it to that second period against Coon, which I wanted to do and haven’t done yet? Was there something I could do against Donny (Longendyke) to make that match further apart than just 4-2? Stuff like that.

I kind of went about it like a normal tournament. Watch some film and see what I could do. It was just a normal tournament in that way. It was cool with it having been the Olympic Trials, and knowing that it was the Olympic Trials; but it was just another tournament and I went about it the same way I would any other. I went back and watched some matches to critique stuff that I could fix. Talk to my coaches about it like, Hey, what could I have done here or there? That’s really all it was.

5PM: Well, you hardly had a breathe-out because the very next week was the U20 Nationals.

AA: Right, I wound up having 13 matches in a week.

5PM: You went both styles at U20 Nationals. Was that a lot of wear on you in that short period of time? You got it done, but still. How was that on your body?

AA: Oh, I was beat. No, it was like beating a dead horse. I was shot. Everyone thought that I went back to the OTC to recuperate. No, I went straight from PA to Vegas. I was trying to do my recovery in Vegas. It was alright, because I could adjust, but it was also like, I’m tired. I was just exhausted. Engel and Ike asked me on the Greco day how I was. I told them, “I’m beat. I’m going to go out there and wrestle my best, but I’m beat.” And that’s what I did. I didn’t go into the tournament feeling good, I wasn’t wrestling very good… Or at least I was not wrestling up to my standard for how I should wrestle. Other people told me that I had wrestled well, but to me it was not up to my standard at all. It was sub-par.

My body was beat. I was exhausted mentally and physically. For Greco, it was, I’m going to win this. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. After that, I was like, I want to win, yeah — but I’m so exhausted. And Engel said, “You look like it.” That second day of freestyle was rough. That was so rough. I showed up to warm-ups and got asked how I was feeling. I couldn’t move my neck, it was so sore. I had knocked out at like 7:00pm the night before because I was so exhausted. It was a long week of training, traveling, and competing.

5PM: You still have the U20 Trials in front of you. Now, I only focus on Greco-Roman but you could very well make the U20 World Team in both disciplines. Do you have a plan in place how to prepare for that?

Aden Attao: Right. Well, everything is not set in stone. I still have to go out there and win my spot. I have to go prove that I deserve the spot, right? But Greco-wise, specifically, it’s going to be the same thing. I’ll be staying here training. I’ve already talked to my coaches. I am trying to stay out here as long as I can. Especially since I am wrestling folkstyle season next year alongside Greco, I’m going to try to get some leg-grabbing and top-bottom work in. But it’s going to be the same. I am going to be training out here helping not only these guys get ready, but also helping myself get ready. I’ll be out here for the Olympic camps. I’m going to Paris as a training partner for Coon. It’s a good experience. It is a super-cool experience that I am super-grateful for. And in regards to if I make both Teams, that is an issue we will deal with if it comes up. I currently don’t know what I would do. But me, my coaches, and my family will deal with that when the time comes.

five point move podcast, latest episodes banner

Listen to “5PM57: Kamal Bey and David Stepanyan” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM56: Rich Carlson and Spencer Woods” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM55: Recapping Final X with Dennis Hall with words from Koontz, Braunagel and Hafizov” on Spreaker.

iTunes | Stitcher | Spreaker | Google Play Music

Notice: Trying to get property 'term_id' of non-object in /home/fivepointwp/webapps/fivepointwp/wp-content/themes/flex-mag/functions.php on line 999

Recent Popular

To Top