On the eve of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the Smokies "411" staff caught up with 1996 gold medalist Kurt Angle. He shared some of his greatest memories from both the Olympics and his professional wrestling career, and told us what it was like to represent the U.S.A. on the largest international stage.
411-What is going on in the minds of the Olympians on the eve of the games?
Kurt Angle-- 1 You can't think of anything but how much is on the line. You Hope that the Best is Coming for You, and that you will have the performance of your life.
411-How did you deal with the "nervousness" when so much is on the line?
Kurt Angle-- Nervousness is something that goes with the Olympics. It's not like other sports where you can have a bad day and make up for it the next game. It's now or never.
411-Was security anything that crossed your mind at the games?
Kurt Angle-- Security was tight in 96 in Atlanta, due to the bombing. We were all scared. You have to rise above it or go home without a medal.
411-Describe the flag raising ceremony after you won gold in 1996.
Kurt Angle-- When the flag raised and the National Anthem played, it was the proudest moment I EVER had as an American. I represented the USA the best that I could.
411-Will we see you at any Smokies games this summer?
Kurt Angle-- I plan to come to at least 1 Smokies game, but if I'm free I Will be there more. The Smokies are awesome!
411-Where is your gold medal stored?
Kurt Angle-- My Gold Medal is above my desk in my office. I don't really have a trophy room because awards do not define me. I Define Me. But I keep it out in the open for others to look at and hold, and enjoy. The Gold Medal is pretty cool to hold, even for me.
411-During your Olympic era, which fellow Olympian did you most admire - American or otherwise? Why?
Kurt Angle-- the Olympian I Most Admire is Alexander Karelin. He was a Hwt freestyle wrestler that dominated like no other. 13 Straight World and Olympic Golds. Wow!
411- If you could have participated in any other Olympic event, which one would you choose?
Kurt Angle- The other sport I would want to compete in is the 100 Meter Dash. It's plain and simple, if you win, you're the fastest man/woman on the Planet, but I'd never trade it for my Gold in freestyle Wrestling.
411- What is your favorite memory from your long successful career as a professional wrestler?
Kurt Angle- My favorite pro wrestling moment had to be vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania. It was a blessing to have a match like that. Every time I see it, it makes me feel like I had that amazing moment that so many pro wrestlers thrive for.