The USA’s Dartanyon Crockett aims to outdo his London 2012 bronze-medal performance and claim his first Paralympic gold at Rio 2016.
The 25-year-old became the up to 90kg man-to-beat after clinching the IBSA World Championships title two years ago.
“Going into London, I only had roughly two years of experience in judo and still managed to take home a bronze,” said Crockett.
“Coming into Rio I will be about six years in the sport, which means I have more of an understanding of the competition aspect of it. I have also made myself one of the athletes to look out for.”
The Cleveland native assures his goal for Rio is “to compete and leave, medal or not, content with my results.” However, he admits: “That said, I am out for gold.”
But winning gold will not be an easy task.
“It is going to take an extreme amount of work and effort,” he said. “It will also take patience and a considerable amount of belief, not only in myself, but in my coaching staff and teammates as well.”
Among his main rivals are Cuba´s reigning Paralympic champion Jorge Hierrezuelo Marcillis, Ukraine´s World No. 1 Oleksandr Nazarenko and Great Britain´s Paralympic multi-medallist Samuel Ingram.
“They are three of the toughest competitors in my category and I will be looking forward to seeing what they have to bring to the table in Rio,” said Crockett, who won the bronze medal at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
Whilst he has set his sights on Rio 2016 success, the judoka reveals that what motivates him to train every day is his “desire to be the best in my sport, as well as wanting to be the best version of myself.”
But Crockett has found another inspiration besides sports, as he is currently pursuing a bachelor´s degree in social work.
“That is a field of work where I can best use my talents and gifts,” he said. “It is one where I can truly make a difference. I have not looked too far past judo yet, but I believe I will be practicing some form of social work.”
Crockett is trying to find a balance between his studies and his preparation for Rio. Meanwhile, he enjoys his success and does not stop dreaming.
“My biggest dream is to continue the one that I am living now,” he said.
“I am representing my country in a sport that I love, pursuing an education and working to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.