No two athletes' roads to the Olympics are alike, and that is particularly true for wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock. Mensah-Stock has had to endure her fair share of challenges on her path to Tokyo, including the loss of her father when she was just a teenager. But through it all, the 28-year-old has developed a bubbly personality that's made her one of the most magnetic athletes set to represent the United States in Japan.
As part of our preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about Tamyra Mensah-Stock:
Tell us about your family.
My twin Tarkyia is the reason why I am in wrestling. My mother told her to join a sport and she found out that wrestling was at our school and joined up. Later on she asked me to join. I was reluctant, but persuaded. I have a little sister Tytiana and an older brother Russell as well.
My mother and father support my wrestling career. My father would go to every match/tournament event in high school. Leaving one of my tournaments, my father was killed in a car crash. My father was my No. 1 fan and now my mother is. She is very supportive. I have a husband who was on the high school and college team as I was. We didn't start dating until junior year of college, though. And we have two fur babies -- Otis and Lula.
Parent influence on athletic career?
My father lived in Louisiana while I lived in Texas, so he would drive back and forth every time I had a tournament and would get upset when I didn't tell him about a dual meet. We always talked on the phone every day and when me and my twin Tarkyia joined wrestling, he was thrilled. He'd always yell and tell us to choke them and/or kill [the opponent]. He'd be the loudest one in the gym, so it was embarrassing ... I miss that.
My mother and auntie made sure we went on college visits to see which schools we would like to go to and she supported us going to college. Made sure we took the test we needed to take and do well as well.
Where does your family come from?
My father's side of the family comes from Africa and my mother's side comes form Illinois and Mississippi.
Who do you live with?
I live with my husband and my fur babies in Colorado Springs in a one-bedroom apartment with a mountain view near Fort Carson.
Lactose free meal replacement smoothie for lunch and food that doesn't have meat in it. I'm a pescatarian, so my diet is limited. I'm allergic to shellfish, avocados and tree nuts, so I eat accordingly. Salads, pasta, fish, vegetarian meals and such.
Earliest memory of wrestling?
I was 15 years old at my high school when it was 6 a.m. and I watched the people pound on each other and wanted nothing to do with it. Only when I won my first match a month later and got to know the team did I really want to excel in the sport.
Earliest memory of watching the Olympics?
My earliest memory was when I watched Kelsey Campbell early in the morning during the Olympics and I said, "I could be there as well!"
What would you change about your sport?
Our sport should have true second when it comes to qualifying the weight classes at the qualifiers for the Olympic Games. And I wish that Americans got as pumped for our sport as they did for MMA or even WWE.
Most interesting teammate?
Jacarra Winchester, because she doesn't have a sense of smell. But everyone is so freaking interesting and entertaining, it's great.
Any pre-competition rituals?
Squat and think of nothing, then sing to myself.
Advice you'd give a young wrestler?
Do not ever quit and remember to have fun! You are capable of more than you know. Give yourself a chance to prove it to yourself.