Cornell senior Kyle Dake spent a portion of his summer with the United States Olympic Wrestling team. This included training in Colorado Springs, traveling to Belarus for the pre-Olympic camp and then going to London for the latter stages of the Games. He briefly talked to New York Wrestling News about the experience.
What was it like to be in London during the Olympics?
Kyle Dake: It was a really great experience. Honestly, we were mostly training and trying to get the guys as ready as possible for the Olympics, so I didn’t get to spend that much time outside of wrestling. I got to take a tour in London one day and saw some great things like the Tower of London.
Did you get to attend any events while you were there?
Kyle Dake: I watched all the freestyle and one day of Greco, which got me super motivated. But I didn’t get a chance to go to any other events in person. We were busy and tickets were pretty expensive. But there were 30 screens set up at the USA House, where Olympians or past Olympians socialized and watched the events. I was in London but I basically saw a lot of the Olympics on TV.
Did you meet any celebrities or Olympians at the USA House?
Kyle Dake: I saw some of the female rowers, soccer players and the silver medal beach volleyball team [Jennifer Kessy and April Ross]. I saw Evander Holyfield and got to see his ear, which still looks deformed. And it was pretty cool to meet the great soccer player Mia Hamm.
Who did you spend most of your time working with in Belarus and London?
Kyle Dake: I was training with [84 kg Olympian] Jake Herbert. [National freestyle coach] Zeke Jones usually takes an extra person at each weight class as an alternate, just in case. Jordan Burroughs took Raymond Jordan as his training partner. [Raymond Jordan] was third at 84 kg at the Olympic Trials, so he was the alternate at 84. They needed a partner for Jake who could also be an alternate at 74. They chose me. I had trained with Jake before – at the camps in Colorado and also a little before that. It was a good experience to work with him. He has a lot of freestyle experience and I got to see how the bigger guys move. Jake wrestled well in the tournament. He had some interesting calls in his matches.
After training with Herbert, do you expect to stay at 74 kg for the next Olympic cycle? Are you finished with Greco or would you consider that sometime in the future?
Kyle Dake: We’ll see what happens, but right now 74 kg is my weight class. I’m done with Greco.
What do you think the freestyle training this summer has done for you as you get ready to go for your 4th NCAA title?
Kyle Dake: I think it helped a lot. It gave me confidence that I could wrestle with the best guys in the world. Knowing I could hang with Olympians and gold medalists makes me feel really good going into the college season. My focus is on my fourth NCAA title now and doing whatever I can to help my team win a title too.
What will you remember most about the Olympic experience?
Kyle Dake: It was a huge motivator. I got really inspired and motivated to get better after watching those guys, especially watching the guys win the gold medals. I know now how badly I want a gold medal of my own. After my college career is over, I’ll be shooting for gold.