Medina misses Games but helps teammate and family get there

June 23, 2012
photo - Jessica Medina, right Photo by ROBBERT WIJTMAN, CSC SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

The Olympic Games can some times crush dreams while it indulges.

USA wrestler Jessica Medina grabs at her right shoulder, feeling around for any lingering pain from the day she was eliminated from Olympic qualification.

Saturday, on the pavement at the White Water Rapids Car Wash, Medina, 25, helped raise more than $1,300 for her Olympic-bound teammate Kelsey Campbell.

Medina’s teeth clench into a forced smile as she watches her lifelong dream played out by her close friend.

“I am so happy for her,” said Medina, who then paused … and relaxed into a wide grin. “I needed to help her with this.”

Two months ago, both women competed in the USA Olympic Wrestling trials in Iowa City; Campbell in the 121-pound weight class and Medina in 105.5.

In the double-elimination tournament both wrestlers won their first matches, but while Campbell kept cruising, Medina felt a "pop."

“In my second match I pulled one way and the other girl pulled the other and my shoulder was pulled out and dislocated,” Medina said. “(The match) was tied before that. Then I lost.”

Refusing to bow out, Medina went on to win her next match before she was eliminated in the following one.

She finished outside of Olympic qualification at fifth.

“It was so tough,” Medina said. “Instead of thinking about tomorrow, you sit there and wonder ‘where did the last four years of my life go?’”

Weeks after, and on the brink of Medina’s right shoulder surgery, USA wrestling coach Terry Steiner called and asked the 5-foot-1 wrestler to help Campbell out with her preparations.

“At first I was like I don’t know. The wound was still fresh,” said Medina about the conversation with the USA coach, who also had never made it to the Olympics in his stint as a wrestler. “But then I thought and was like 'This gives me some meaning.' I want to help her out in the best way I can.”

From 10-to-3 Saturday frozen yogurt shop iTopIt, the car wash and USA wrestling teammates helped raise money for Campbell. Part of the proceeds will go to her parents’ travel expenses to London.

When the fundraiser closed, Campbell was long gone – she was training with Steiner.

And all the while back at the car wash, Medina puttered around making sure every penny was grabbed for her teammate’s journey.

So on July 27, Campbell will be seen on the mat on the biggest stage.

But as Saturday proved, the Olympics are just as much about the athletes who didn't make it as those who did.

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