2008-05-02 / Sports

Olympic Goal Is In Reach For Mikolajczak

By Elio Velez

Dariusz Mikolajczak (right) works an armbar on USA junior teammate Yuko Sin. Photo by Chuck DaLessio. Dariusz Mikolajczak (right) works an armbar on USA junior teammate Yuko Sin. Photo by Chuck DaLessio. The decision wasn't hard for Dariusz Mikolajczak to become a physical education teacher in the New York City Department of Education when he graduated from Brooklyn College.

Mikolajczak has been a physical education teacher for 4 years at Goldie Maple Academy on Beach 57 Street, where he has devoted his time and dedication to teaching young children at the school.

But when the school day ends, Mikolajczak continues to pursue a dream goal which he has chased for many years.

On June 13, the physical education teacher tries to achieve his dream of winning the gold medal in the judo competition at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing China.

But for that to happen, Mikolajczak must first compete at the United States Olympic Judo and Wrestling Trials at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

"It would be a dream come true because I've been doing this since I was young," Mikolajczak said.

With only one spot available in the 100 kilogram weight class or the U.S. System of Measurement which is a equivalent to 220 pounds, Mikolajczak says he is ready to win.

There is no sense of fear or hesitation when you talk to Mikolajczak, whose family emigrated from Poland before he was born.

His determination has been sharpened by years of practice. Judo is a sport which requires training, concentration and strength. Throws, takedowns, arm locks and chokes are few of the elements required in the sport to compete.

While in Brooklyn College, he advanced but was disappointed to lose in the 90 kg finals of the 2004 Olympic Trials in San Jose, California.

Though named an alternate and able to train with the USA team, Mikolajczak wasn't being able to take the trip to Athens, Greece for the Summer Olympics.

That has fueled his desire to take part as member of the USA team for the opening ceremonies on August 8. Mikolajczak stepped up his regiment with the Starrett City Judo Club in Brooklyn where he is trained by former Olympian Parnell Legros

"My training regiment had to improve and certain lifestyle changes had to go," Mikolajczak said.

"That alone makes a big difference because you have to change your whole lifestyle within you. Your diet, your training, who some of your friends are or not."

His dream isn't a secret to fellow teachers and students. The travel can be exhausting, when he returns to work on Monday from such locationsas Cuba, which he went last month withthe USA national team to prepare for the Olympics trials.

Mikolajczak receives encouraging words from Principal Angela Logan, parent coordinator Kisha Gilford, other teachers and the students he supervises on a daily basis.

After capturing the bronze medal at the U.S. Nationals in Virginia Beach in April, USA Judo currently ranks him third in the nation in the 100 kilogram weight class. He's scouted or battled against the seven opponents that will be in his class.

As he gets closer to his goal, Mikolajczak is a bit nervous as June 13 approaches. What is clear is that the only goal is either Beijing or bust.

"Even if I don't make the Olympics, if I train right and doing everything right, I can walk away knowing I did everything right."

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