Kayla Harrison, who is the first American to ever win gold in the judo competition at the Olympics, is planning on returning home to Marblehead, Massachusetts and continue the process of becoming a firefighter for the same department where her fiance works.
The Boston Herald is reporting that while Harrison was defeating Great Britain’s Gemma Gibbons to win gold in the women’s under 78-kilogram division, her friends and family had gathered to watch and cheer her on.
I couldn’t go on with the day if I didn’t know what happened,” said friend Matthew Christensen to The Boston Herald. “I’ve been so nervous since the beginning of this. Every single match she did was impressive.”
A fellow Marblehead firefighter who works with Harrison’s fiance, Aaron Handy, Christensen hosted an Olympics viewing party to support Harrison. A banner supporting Harrison was also hoisted outside the town’s fire house, where town Fire Chief Jason Gilliland said Harrison scored well on the civil service test and took the required EMT class, but she still must pass her state certification.
It sounds like she is close to realizing her dream to becoming a firefighter, but it’s not quite in the bag yet. “It’s not a foregone conclusion, but she’s certainly in contention” to be hired, Gilliland said.
Harrison’s friends say that becoming a firefighter was the furthest thing from the athlete’s mind yesterday when she was winning Olympic gold. “We were definitely nervous,” said Matthew’s wife Laura Christensen.
She went on to admit they couldn’t wait till the delayed TV broadcast to watch Harrison’s match. “It was streamed online so my three kids, my husband and I were huddled around the laptop at lunch. We just started screaming and cheering. It was great,” she said.