“I Couldn’t Feel Any More Pain”: Despite Achieving a Big Feat at Just 17, Ronda Rousey Was Distraught at the 2004 Olympics

Published 01/01/2023, 2:10 AM EST

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Although the end of her MMA career was far from ideal Ronda Rousey has already solidified her position as a pioneer of women’s MMA. The first-ever female UFC champion is also an Olympic medal winner in judoka. A huge PPV star in her prime, Rousey accomplished her dominance in both Strikeforce and the UFC. Her mentality was that anything short of the ultimate prize was not good enough and that was an enormous factor in her success across multiple stages. An expert mentioned in her memoir detailed a loss at the 2004 Olympics and revealed her deep-rooted passion to win.

Rousey was only 17 then, which speaks volumes about her skill and determination behind making the US Olympics team for Judo. While her goal was to make the 2008 Olympics team, she exceeded her own expectations and made it to the 2004 team as well. However, the unexpected joy only made the disappointment that ensued all the more painful.


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In her memoir, ‘Rowdy’ detailed how she lost a match to an Australian opponent because of a bad referee call. She described how her 17-year-old self felt after losing in the very first round. “It was as if the world had been turned upside down. I was in shock. I walked off the mat fighting back tears.”

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Rousey’s quest for gold ended early, but that was not the last of the disappointments the 2004 Olympics had in store for the teenager.

Ronda Rousey on dealing with 2004 Olympics disappointment

Since her opponent from Australia made it to the semis, Rousey had a shot at a bronze medal as per the rules of the competition (repechage). The 17-year-old judoka won her first match in the repechage but fell short in the second. Rousey missed out by a very slender margin because of a penalty point. Eventually, her time ran out and she could not get the job done despite being on the offensive.


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“I felt numb at the sound of the buzzer. I waited for the emotion to wash over me, for the tears to fall, for my knees to give out. But I realized that I couldn’t feel any more pain,” wrote Rousey, describing the anguish of the moment.


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This loss meant that she left the tournament without a medal. Her unexpected entry into the Olympics four years earlier than she hoped for, had nothing but disappointments in store for her. For a 17-year-old kid, Rousey did impressively well, but simply showing up would not do it for the future MMA champion. That was not the cloth from which she was cut. “Overall, I finished ninth, the best finish of any woman on the US judo team. But it wasn’t good enough for me,” she wrote.


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What are your thoughts on Ronda Rousey’s reaction to her performance at the 2004 Olympics? What does it tell you about her mentality? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.


Written by:

Yeswanth Praveen


One take at a time

Yeswanth Praveen is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. His interests mainly lie in the realm of MMA, bodybuilding, and the fitness industry. He finished his Master's in English literature from EFLU, Hyderabad.
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Edited by:

Gideon Mathson