DURHAM, N.C. Ė Konrad Dudziak, a wrestler here at Duke, has taken this school year off to focus, train, and compete for a spot on the United States Olympic Team. The 211.5 pound Dudziak will compete in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this weekend June 13-15 in Las Vegas. If victorious in the matches this weekend, Dudziak will face the No. 1 ranked wrestler in America in a best-of-three series to represent the U.S. in Beijing this summer. Dudziak will be returning to Duke this fall as a redshirt-junior. He will be a top candidate to become the first All-America or National Champion in program history.
GoDuke.com recently caught up with Dudziak, a native of Poland, to discuss the upcoming Olympic Trials.
GoDuke.com: You decided to take this year off from Duke. Was that a tough decision to make?
Konrad Dudziak: “No, not really, not this year. I had been taking time off since my sophomore year, so I took half my sophomore year off, half my junior year off and then this whole year. It really wasn’t a tough decision; it was hard at times because I had never been able to come back to Duke and my graduating class, and I haven’t seen them in the last two years. I kind of regret that but it really wasn’t a tough decision.”
GD: Do you still keep in touch with your Duke teammates and coaches?
KD: “Yes, especially with my captain from senior year, and he is one of my best friends.”
GD: What do you most look forward to about your return to Duke in the fall?
KD: “The fact that I’ll probably put our wrestling program on the map. Our wrestling program has not had an All-American ever, and I’m looking to win the national title for it.”
GD: You are a physics major. Any thoughts on what you plan to do with your degree after your time here at Duke?
KD: “That’s a long story, but in 2012 there is a gravity telescope going up by NASA and it’s the first time we’ll be able to get a good reading of gravity waves, which we haven’t been able to get before so theories will be tested. A lot of new science will be written and corrected and I’m hoping to jump on that wave.”
GD: What do you feel are your strongest skills on the wrestling mat?
KD: “I traveled the world. I’ve been to Russia so I have a lot of technique that a lot of people have not seen, and I’ve trained here under one of the most intense guys so I’m both skilled and mentally tough.”
GD: What influenced you to contend for a spot on Team USA rather than Poland?
KD: “When I came here it seemed like the right fit for me. In Poland, it was a lot different. I was wrestling, but I wasn’t breaking through the pack and here, the last thing I really needed was mental toughness. I started winning matches when I was here, so I decided to stay.”
GD: How is your training regimen for the Olympics different from wrestling practice at Duke?
KD: “For one, I’m completely focused on wrestling here. Its 24 hours a day when it comes to my diet, when I sleep, when it comes to how I rest, when it comes to how I work out. Everything is wrestling. I get two workouts a day, I make sure I get the proper amount of rest, proper amount of sleep, proper amount of food. At Duke you only have time for one workout a day and many times I didn’t get the right amount of sleep because I was up all night doing my physics homework, and sometimes your diet suffers when you do that too, so it’s a lot different.”
GD: What are your thoughts going into the matches this weekend at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, having previously faced and defeated Brent Jones and Willie Parks?
KD: “Well I know I can win, I just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I know I can win it, it’s mine to lose it so I just got to stay as focused as I did before.”
GD: What would it mean to you to represent the United States in Beijing?
KD: “Everything... I mean back where I started it might not have been realistic, but right now I want it really bad.”