Laila’s Advice to Olympian: “Stay Out of the Water”

July 28, 2016 | Updated: 9:47 a.m., July 28, 2016

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

With just a week left before Rio welcomes the world for the Olympic Games, Eye Opener spoke with gold medal-winning Judo champion Kayla Harrison.

She started competing at the ripe old age of six, and quickly became the best in the world at her sport.  She made history back in 2012 when she became the first American ever to win a gold medal in the sport of Judo. Now she’s looking to repeat that at this year’s Olympics in Rio.

Turns out, Judo runs in the Harrison family.

“My mom actually took Judo in college, so when I was a little girl she wanted me to learn self defense,” Kayla said. “I think– honestly– she wanted to get me out of the house a little bit because I was a bit of the wild child; so I needed some discipline.

Of course we had to ask her about the “death circuit” workout she recently posted about on Instagram.



Kayla said this killer routine was from her strength trainer, Paul.

“I call his gym ‘Paul’s palace of pain.’


“Before the last Olympics I had to do a circuit that pretty much left me having to crawl out of the gym. And this time was no different, so I nicknamed them the ‘death circuits’ because afterwards I feel like I might die.  I’m not sure if I’m going to cry, or if I’m going to be sick or if I’m just going to pass out,” Kayla said.

She described the workout as 13 exercises put together in the most brutal way possible.

“It’s meant to simulate a match, like I’m fighting all my matches; and making me tired now so I’m not tired on August 11,” the Olympian explained.

Besides painful workouts, Kayla revealed mental preparation plays a big part in her training.

“I’m a very big believer in visualization and positive thinking. So every night before I go to bed I visualize the Olympics. I picture everything from what I eat for breakfast that day, to my bus ride to the venue, to my warm-up, to my first match, my second match, the semi-finals, the finals, standing on top of the podium, feeling the gold medal go around my neck, watching the flag being raised, hearing the national anthem, hugging my family, hugging my coach and waving to the crowd– I picture all of it so, by the time I get to Rio, I’ve done it a thousand times in my mind; and my body just has to go do the work.”

As the interview with Kayla came to an end, Eye Opener host Laila Muhammad left our guest with some parting advice.

“We’re so proud of you, Laila said. “We wish you the best of luck in Rio.

“Girl, stay out of the water.”

Kayla laughed.  “Will do! Thank you so much!”