Hart did not qualify for the 2012 London Olympics at the World Championships, and the 165-pound slot was back up for grabs. It was truly now or never for Gausha.
“People don’t know that I’m strong in faith, but when Jesse Hart got the spot (at the Olympic Trials) I felt like he could of … I didn’t know whether he would qualify or not,” Gausha said pensively. “I thought he would go out there and maybe he would qualify, so if he did maybe I would just go pro. When I found out he didn’t, I said this is my chance right here and I knew that I had to make it work.”
Despite the recess from national competition, Gausha always still held onto some hope.
“I couldn’t give up my dreams,” he said. “I’m not a quitter.”
Like many, Gausha always had the dream of making the Olympics, and the skill level to do so – he’s always had that too. “My mom always told me to finish what I started; if you’re going to do something, do it all the way, don’t half-step,” Gausha said.
Certain changes had to be made, however. Gausha made a series of them.
“I stopped eating red meat – just chicken and fish; running two, three times a day, training twice a day sometimes, just putting everything into the gym, putting everything into my workouts,” Gausha said.
Dieting habits weren’t the only changes Gausha made. He began to isolate himself. He moved west to California.
“I got away from my friends, away from my family, I went to California and went to a real training camp,” Gausha said.
He went to train with WSB franchise LA Matadors head coach Manny Robles. The two had good chemistry in 2011 when Gausha fought for the Matadors, and Robles left the door open for him to come back and work together.
Gausha would have to earn the re-opened middleweight slot at the 2012 USA National Championships, which would give him the right to compete in the America’s Qualifier in Rio de Janeiro to earn his entry into the Olympics.
In an impressive showing, he defeated six fighters in seven days, including both Alvarado and Hart. Not long after, he earned his Olympic berth in Brazil en-route to a gold medal winning performance at the America’s Qualifier. Gausha punched his ticket to London.
“After I got my second chance, I put everything I had into it and I came out on top,” Gausha said. “There wasn’t a plan B; I just had to make it work.”
He has gone from being out of the Olympic picture – in fact, not even attempting to join it – to being the U.S.’s middleweight representative.
It’s hard to doubt someone who not only shows such determination, but goes out and achieves. Gausha has reached the final leg, and with only one prize in mind, and a resilient attitude, what he’s learned from the struggle to get the trip started, may be just what he needs to help him finish.
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July 18, 2012