August 06. 2008 4:55PM
Schwab is ready ? and focused for Olympic title
By J.R. Ogden
(Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)
Doug Schwab consults with Randy Lewis while practicing with Daniel Dennis inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday. Schwab is on his way to Beijing to wrestle in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
IOWA CITY - Doug Schwab seemingly has it all ? a new wife and child, a drive and work ethic to reach the top and the talent to be among one of the best wrestlers in the world.
But he?s also had doubts.
?I don?t know why,? he said. ?I think it?s human nature a little bit.?
Schwab is en route to Beijing as a member of the United States men?s freestyle wrestling team because that doubt, for the most part, has been replaced by a new outlook that keeps him relaxed and even joking weeks before the biggest tournament of his life.
?I think he ? he progressed, there is no, ?I think? ? he progressed from a great example in the room, the best example that we have as far as a lifestyle committed to training with a purpose into a great example as a competitor, winning close matches, winning the tight battles, separating himself from his competition, being able to beat everybody every time.? University of Iowa Coach Tom Brands said.
That?s what confidence has done.
An assistant under Brands at Iowa, Schwab got married two weeks after earning a spot on the U.S. team in June. He and his new bride, Allison, will spend their honeymoon in China.
?It?s going to be a good time,? Schwab said with a laugh,
That?s the new, relaxed, confident Schwab ? ?having a good time? before embarking on a lifelong dream.
Schwab?s talent has never been in question. He was a three-time Iowa state finalist and 1996 champion out of Osage High School and a three-time All-American at the Iowa, winning an NCAA title in 1999.
But there were bouts with doubt, especially when he entered the international ring. Those doubts produced too many fifth, sixth and seventh place finishes.
That all changed in the last year.
?Physically I?m prepared,? he said. ?Mentally, I?m prepared. Technically, I?m prepared, as best I can be.
?When all those things are all together, why wouldn?t I go out there and just be ready to compete and just be at ease and excited.?
It?s a good question, one Schwab had a hard time answering himself. Maybe it is human nature, maybe it?s a slip here or a slip there that leads to that doubt.
Whatever it is, it seems to be in the past.
?That?s the thing I?ve spent a lot of time on, just working on my mind,? he said. ?I know I?m prepared as well as anybody in the world. In all aspects.?
Schwab?s coaches have told him how good he is and can be for years. But it took something inside to make it finally click, to make him really believe.
?It comes from you telling yourself time and time and time again,? he said. ?You almost brainwash yourself into success.?
Brands never doubted Schwab would reach this spot and said it?s not always about being patient and waiting for those years of hard work to finally pay off. Outside factors also can play a role.
?I think it takes things that narrow your focus,? he said. ?His wife and baby certainly help.?
Hayden Michael Schwab was born about five months before Doug and Allison were married.
?It?s been good,? Schwab said of life as a husband and father.
Now that focus, however, is on the Olympics and bringing home a medal. Schwab said he took a little time off after the Trials to get re-energized, but has been working hard on the mat and on his head, staying away from the ?hoopla? that surrounds the Olympics.
?I?ve got to be prepared more than I?ve ever been prepared,? he said.
He?s worked on his shape, his mind and his technique, fine-tunning aspects he figures cost him at the World Championships last year. He?s learned from his mistakes and ?definitely made up some ground? in the last six weeks.
He?s got less than two weeks to put in all together.
?That last month of training is to be focused on every second, even every second of practice,? he said.
He?s happy to be wrestling in Beijing, representing the United States. But that?s not enough.
?When you come from this program and are raised the way I was raised, you go to win,? he said.