Terrence Jennings is finally going to the Olympics.
He is healthy after two knee surgeries cost him a chance to compete in the 2008 games in Beijing. Jennings punched – and kicked – his ticket to London during the U.S. Tae Kwon Do trials in March.
“It’s an amazing feeling to think four years ago I had two knee surgeries and now four years later I’m actually gonna be in the Olympics, so everything happens for a reason,” Jennings said.
“All those steps don’t exist anymore, the one thing left is to get a gold medal at the Olympics makes it a lot easier to just focus in on training and being prepared for that day,” he said.
Competing since he was 11 years old, Jennings found his inspiration from a source almost too funny to believe.
“I used to be a really big Ninja Turtles fan when I was younger,” he admitted. “I didn’t grow webbed feet or anything like that, but it was cool to figure out how they were kicking back then.”
A native of Virginia, the featherweight moved to Miami to train with U.S. Olympic coach Juan Moreno - himself a two-time silver medalist – and fellow Olympian Paige McPherson, one half of the four-person team.
“When it comes down to it, it’s just you and your coach in the ring and it really makes a difference when you have that extra bond,” he said. “He’s seen it before, been around it before, so he knows the game in and out.”
The competitions consist of four to seven fights a day, three rounds per fight and two minutes per round, trying to earn as many points from the judges as quickly as possible.
“A lot goes into this one moment of being able to express everything you’ve learned and everything you’ve trained for, everything you work hard for,” Jennings said.
And even though this is Jennings’ first trip to the Olympics, he’s comfortable on the international stage and anxious to represent his country.
“Most athletes live for the big fight, I want to fight the best in the world, and compete against the best in the world and compare myself to the best in the world. If I’m not doing that then there’s no point in doing it,” Jennings said.
“This isn’t the end for me, my ultimate goal is to be on the medal stage, I want to hear my anthem played, I want to wear the gold medal, so once that’s all said and done, I might cry.”