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U.S. National Champions Q & A: Daniel Cormier

5/14/2004 Amy Ufnowski/TheMat.com

Last year, Daniel Cormier battled through injuries and the loss of his daughter in a tragic car accident to earn a spot on the U.S. World Team.

Since that time, he has won a gold medal at the Pan American Games and placed fifth in the World Championships, proving himself as a legitimate Olympic medal contender.

TheMat.com spoke with Cormier about his preparation for the Olympic Trials.

TheMat.com: You have been in this position before as the U.S. Nationals champion preparing for only the Championship Series. What is different about this year than last?

Cormier: The only difference is actually wrestling at the Trials and to get a guy after he has been through the whole tournament. I have been training the same as last year.

TheMat.com: Do you feel there is more at stake this year being it is your first time you are able to qualify for an Olympic Team?

Cormier: This is so much different than the World Team Trials, so of course there is more at stake. It is biggest thing in the sport right now and something I have dreamed about since I took wrestling seriously.

TheMat.com: Explain your training situation in Stillwater. Does it benefit you that your opponents, Dean Morrison and Tim Hartung train elsewhere?

Cormier: Working with Jamill Kelly, Eric Guerrero, Teague Moore, and Mo Lawal has helped me prepare for this because we are all training for the same things. Training with them daily pushes me harder. I can’t be lazy. Mo and I workout together mainly because he is closer to my weight. He is real strong and gives me a good look as to see what I am up against.

TheMat.com: Is having two other U.S. Nationals champions who also will be sitting out of the Challenge Tournament, Jamill Kelly and Eric Guerrero, working out with you consistently helping you concentrate for the Championship Series?

Cormier: I get to see what they are doing and base my training and preparation off them. It is really helpful, especially training with Guerrero because he has been in the situation of sitting out of the Challenge Tournament before.

TheMat.com: You were the Pan American Games champion and placed fifth in the World Championships after a year of heartbreak, loss and injury. Do you feel that you have improved as a wrestler since then because there aren’t any distractions of that magnitude around you.?

Cormier: I have done well because I let what happened motivate me. Also, I have improved because there are good wrestlers that I am up against which makes me a better wrestler. I get better because they are getting better.

TheMat.com: How has the return of Melvin Douglas to the weight class and qualifying for the Trials affected you?

Cormier: Melvin’s return has had a big effect on me because when I was growing up, I looked up to him. He is a good opponent. If I am ever in a match with him I find it an honor to wrestle him because he is good. For all of his competition, he provides them with a hard match.

TheMat.com: People often compared you and Melvin saying that you are a younger version of him. Do you feel that is an accurate comparison?

Cormier: Technically, I do things that are similar to his style. If anyone compares me to Melvin I would gladly accept it because he has been an Olympian twice, a World bronze medalist twice and placed in many World Championships. Who wouldn’t want to be compared to someone who is that good and accomplished?

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