New-York-born wrestler Brandon Escobar will be competing at the 2012 London Olympic Games. But he will not be waving the U.S. flag; he will be representing Honduras.
Escobar is breaking the mold, not only as an American competing for another team, but as the first wrestler to represent Honduras in the games’ history.
At 121 pounds and 5’4, he splits his time between Honduras and Sound Beach on Long Island. He spent just over 4 years as a child in Honduras after his parents separated, then moved back to New York with his mother and stepfather. After his wrestling career in high school, he continued to pursue his Olympic dream. Escobar found himself being scouted for the U.S. wrestling team, but he thought he would have better odds making it to the Olympics representing Honduras. Now he proudly represents his mother’s and father’s home country.
According to Escobar, his success in qualifying for the games stems from his instinctual style of wrestling.
“The most unique thing about my technique is it is still always changing,” Escobar says. “I don’t have as many years under my belt as everyone else and I end up making stuff up as I go.”
His journey to the Olympics has been exciting and unexpected, according to Escobar.
Last March, Escobar competed in the Pan American Olympic Qualifying rounds 55 kilogram division. There he faced the last wrestler, Fernando Paredes from Venezuela, who was standing between him and his ticket to London.
“There were a few seconds left and I kept thinking, ‘Fight! Fight! Fight! Get this guy if you can,’” he begins. “When the ref blew the whistle twice, I looked over at the scoreboard while still fighting and I saw I had already pegged my opponent. I didn’t realize I had already won.”
Escobar is one of the lightest competitors. He plans to add another five pounds to his frame, but he does have an advantage over heavier opponents despite his current size. He stresses the importance of persistence in his strategy.
“The toughest matches are the ones that last until the 3rd period,” Escobar explains. “I can win them because I still have the speed and the stamina that keeps going until I have to stop.” It is most important to stay consistent and strong throughout a match, he adds.
Like Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo, Escobar also works with children at athletic training camps in Honduras. He teaches this lesson:
“If you have a goal, you gotta go 100 percent,” he tells his students. “If you really want something, go after it. You have to have your goals, your priorities, and the drive and just take it to the fullest extent. If you can do all that, you will be successful.”
He plans to return to his Long Island high school next year to mentor more students. He attributes his success to his mentors, his friends, and especially his family. He wants to be a driving force for other aspiring athletes.
“Wrestling is my life now,” says Escobar. “I do it every day and I have been doing it for years. It gives me something to be proud of and I hope to make everyone else proud and inspired.”