Skip to Content

There are endless impressive stories at the 2012 Summer Olympics – from Michael Phelps setting a medal record to Gabby Douglas winning the all-around gymnastic title to Oscar Pistorius advancing to the 400-meter semifinals – but no one has a story quite like Kayla Harrison.

The judo Gold medalist (in the 78-kilogram division) has overcome an unimaginable past, as her former coach pleaded guilty in federal court in 2007 to charges of illicit sexual conduct.

Harrison, 22, was listed in court papers as “K.H.” or “the victim.”

Kayla has been open about the experience, which she says mostly took place on trips around the globe when she was 16. Emotional during the medal ceremony yesterday, she said soon afterward:

“Kind of just reflecting back on my life. Everything it’s taken to get here, and everything that I’ve gone through. I’m America’s first gold medalist in judo – and always will be.”

Harrison’s ex-coach, Daniel Doyle, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and has been expelled for life from USA Judo. Kayla has clearly moved on successfully, using her past as motivation. For herself and hopefully for others.

“Never give up on your dreams,” Harrison said on Thursday. “I mean, if I can do it, anybody can do it. Things have happened, but now, my life is a dream. I’m living my dream right now.”