PISCATAWAY, NJ – Colton Brown went from not enjoying judo when he first started as a kid to training for a good 12 years or so for moments he experienced earlier this month.

Brown, 24, competed for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, and the Piscataway, N.J. native was blown away.

“The Olympics were an incredible, unforgettable experience,” Brown told TAPinto Piscataway. “It didn’t really hit me that I made an Olympic team until I physically walked in the (Olympic) Village. I immediately became excited and got butterflies.”

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After a first round bye in the Round of 64, Brown faced Sudan’s Iszlam Monier Suliman in the Round of 32. Brown made quick work winning by “ippon” (the equivalent of a pin in wrestling) in just 21 seconds using the “uchi-mata” technique.

“I can’t even describe the feeling I got fighting in the Olympics,” Brown said. “When I stepped onto the tatami (mat), everything felt right and I was beyond excited.”

After Brown defeated his first opponent, he was matched with Alexandre Iddir of France in the Round of 16. The No. 8-ranked Iddir topped the No. 27-ranked Brown as Iddir scored a Waza-ari 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the match for 10 points. That’s all Iddir needed.

Just like a high school football player making the jump to the college level where the game feels and is a lot faster, the same thing happened with Brown, as his matches were all a blur.

“The matches went by a lot faster than I anticipated,” he said. “Obviously the first match was a quick win, but even the second match that went the distance (nine minutes) felt like it was over before it started. Usually toward the end of matches I feel fatigued, but that didn’t happen. The entire experience went faster than I would’ve liked, but I enjoyed every second of it.”

Brown also mentioned what he learned and what he needs to focus on improving so he can potentially medal in Tokyo in 2020.

“I need to get more technically sound in order to get a medal at this level,” said Brown, the youngest judoka on Team USA. “There’s a lot more strategy involved that I wasn’t aware. Once I create a strategy and improve my technique, I firmly believe I will medal in Tokyo.”

Brown’s family and even his coach at San Jose State University, Yosh Uchida, flew down to Brazil to watch him perform. To the 90kg (198-pound) fighter, it was the best feeling in the world.

“When I finally realized that my family was in the stands, I became even more excited,” he said. “My family hasn’t been present at a tournament since I was a Junior. I always do better when I know they’re there physically supporting me, so it was a calming feeling knowing I had people who truly support me in the stands.”

Of course, being at the Olympics as a competitor, your main job and focus is to do the best you can and win a medal. But the other is to soak it up and enjoy everything the trip comes with.

“After I was done fighting, I wanted to experience as much as possible. We spend so much time training as athletes that we don’t have time to do much else,” Brown said. “In Rio (De Janeiro), I got to watch track and field events live, which I really enjoyed, I went to eat at various restaurants, I went sight seeing with my teammates, and most importantly I got to relax and finally let my body heal.”

And now that his Aug. 10 matches and the Olympics are all said and done this time around, Brown is already lasered in on returning to the Summer Games in four years.

“I can honestly say it was the best experience I’ve had in my life,” Brown said. “ … [But], I can’t wait and will live every day in preparation for 2020 (in Tokyo).”

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