Bono to Compete in U.S. Olympic Trials Saturday

Head Wrestling Coach Chris Bono heads to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Thursday and will compete Saturday for a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.


The Olympic Trials will be held Friday through Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Bono, a past World Team member, is competing for his first U.S. Olympic Team berth.  He will wrestle in the 66 kilogram/145.5 pound freestyle division.


Should Bono advance through the bracket and to the finals, he will face Doug Schwab, the 2008 U.S. Nationals Champion.  Schwab receives a bye through to the finals, which will be a best of two-out-of-three series beginning at 5 p.m. PT.


The Olympic Games are Aug. 12-21 in Beijing, China.


Bono sat down for a question and answer session Wednesday before departing on his trip:



Q:  How is your health and conditioning heading into the U.S. Open?


A:  It is perfect.  I’m healthy.  Even little things that bother me training wise, they don’t bother me right now.  My conditioning is better than it is ever been.  I take my training seriously.  I did everything right.  There will be no excuses win, lose or draw.


Q:  Has your training regimen varied any this time around?


A:  It varied because of some of the mistakes we made for the U.S. Open.  I’ve got to attack more which means I have to be in better shape.  We went through a series of more conditioning and more wrestling-related drills, making sure I’m attacking every 20 to 40 seconds.  Our strategy changed up which means our training had to change a little bit.


Q:  You say we.  Who makes up your team?


A:  Mike Hatcher, who is from Cleveland, Tenn., has been coming down and training me for the last six months.  He has been really great and has helped me a bunch.


Q:  Do you know who your first-round opponent is?


A:  I don’t.  I think it is all going to change.  Right now, I get the winner of Paulson and Simpson, but I think what is going to happen is some 60 kilo guys are going to move up, which means I’ll have a first-round match and then get the winner of that match.  That may change after weigh-ins.  It doesn’t matter right now.  We’ll have to see what happens.


Q:  What are the circumstances that have to happen in order for you to make the Olympic Team?


A:  I have to win, if everything stays the same right now, I have to win three matches between 10:00 and 2:00 and then I have to beat another guy that is sitting out, two-out-of-three at 5:00.


Q:  How do you rate your feelings going into this competition compared to some other International events?


A:  The feeling for me, I think, is this will define my career.  I’ve worked so hard for so long and have never won a world medal.  I’ve won a lot of International tournaments and been close but this is it.  They are going to look back and say I’m an Olympian and won a medal or I did all of this for nothing.  This is it for me.  That is the way I am approaching it.


Q:  How has your family been behind you?


A:  That has been the best thing about it.  I’ve got no worries, no concerns.  The support system that I’ve had in place for so long is stronger than ever.  My mom is giving up a chance to maybe watch me wrestle for the last time by coming to watch my children so my wife can come out and watch.  My dad will be there.  I have high school coaches that are coming, cousins that are coming, but the support system before I can get there is what has been important to me. I haven’t made a team in two years and, going through some rough times, it’s always been the support of them that has kept me going.


Q:  Has the University shown its support as well?


A:  That helps.  The support here has been tremendous.  There are no other head coaches who are competing.  Knowing that Rick is behind me and the support that everyone has given me here, even Dr. Brown has been really interested in the progress of this.  But that’s huge.  Knowing that I might get the chance to put UTC over in China will be a big deal for our program.


Q:  How does the rest of the world stack up against the United States’ wrestlers?


A:  Right now Russia is dominant.  Russia won six Gold Medals in seven weight classes last year and the other guy took third.  We are right there.  We are second, third, fourth in the world the last couple of years.  With the way our system is, we have a different guy make the team every year, whereas the Russians, they get their guy, and that’s their guy for five, six years.  So he’s getting the experience; he’s doing it.  We will be right there.  No matter what, our country is so tough that whoever makes the Olympic Team will have a chance to go get a medal.


Q:  What has been the most satisfying accomplishment of your International career?


A:  I have never really looked back on it.  I’ve made three World Teams and I haven’t brought a medal home.  Making the World Team has been O.K.  But I’ve won some other International tournaments.  But I really don’t have anything.  Hopefully this weekend.  This is my ultimate goal.  I hope this will be the defining moment.


Q:  How does this opportunity affect Chattanooga’s wrestlers and your program?


A:  It has been great.  We have really bonded because I have needed these guys.  I have needed them to train.  It has really helped them to see what I am going through and that I need these guys.  They are coming in every day working out with me when they could be out on the lake or they could be doing something else.  They see an opportunity; they have really taken care of me.  It’s almost like we have had a different relationship where they have been the coach, asking me if I need anything, massaging me after a workout, just making sure I’ve got workout partners, coming in to lift with me so I have someone to lift with.  These guys have rallied.  It’s not been one guy; there’s been 12-15 guys in there every day for the last six to eight weeks helping me get ready.


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