|Born:||March 20, 1979|
|Ht: / Wt:||5'11" / 211 lbs|
|Event(s):||Men's freestyle wrestling - 96kg/211.5 lbs|
Back for Beijing
One of two returning Olympians on the 2008 U.S. Olympic wrestling team (Brad Vering is the other), Daniel Cormier enters Beijing an outside medal contender in the freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs division. He finished fourth at the 2004 Athens Games, losing to Ali Reza Heidari of Iran in the bronze medal match. Cormier is coming off his first major international championship medal, a bronze at the 2007 World Championships, where Cormier was forced into the consolation bracket after losing to another Iranian, Saeid Abrahimi, who took silver. The heavy favorite for gold in Beijing at freestyle 96kg is Russia's Khadjimurad Gatsalov, a reigning Olympic and three-time world champion.
In the U.S., Cormier has owned his weight class since 2003, when he won his first senior national title and first world championships berth. He hasn't lost at U.S. Nationals since, and has claimed every World and Olympic Trials berth. His first world team berth came via a special wrestle-off, which USA Wrestling held to let Cormier deal with the tragic death of his daughter in June 2003.
Cormier's life has been beset by a series of tragedies. The most devastating was the death of his 3-month old daughter, Kaedyn Imri Cormier, in a car accident on June 14, 2003. The daughter of Cormier and Carolyn Flowers -- Cormier's former girlfriend who ran track at Oklahoma State while Cormier was a wrestler -- Kaedyn was riding in a car on Interstate 35 north of Austin, Texas, when an 18-wheeler rear-ended the automobile. The air conditioner in Flowers' vehicle was not working that day, so she decided to let the baby ride in a friend's car. The two vehicles were separated and Flowers had to stop for gas. She called her friend's cell phone, but no one answered. She continued to try for a few hours, until a police officer pulled into the gas station. Flowers asked him for help, and when she told him her name, the officer informed her of the news. Kaedyn was killed despite being in a properly installed infant car seat. Two other people in the car suffered significant injuries, but survived.
The death of a close family member was not new to Cormier. When Cormier was 7, his father, Joseph, was shot and killed on Thanksgiving Day in 1986 by the father of his second wife. And during Cormier's junior year in high school, a close friend and football teammate was killed in a car accident. A year later, he lost a cousin in another auto accident. Then, while attending Oklahoma State University, a good friend of Cormier's, Daniel Lawson, was among those who perished in a plane crash involving the Cowboys' basketball team.
Cormier got his start in wrestling at age 11, when he and a friend got in a fistfight in the school parking lot. The wrestling coach broke it up and suggested the boys do something more productive with their aggression. Cormier said he didn't like the sport initially because his younger brother, Ferral, was succeeding and he wasn't. Plus, Cormier says he wanted to be a WWF wrestler. But he stuck with it and eventually won three state high school titles
LSU football or Colby, Kansas?
Cormier was also an all-state linebacker in football and had a scholarship offer to play at Louisiana State. But by that time he preferred wrestling. So in 1997 he left home to attend Colby Junior College in Kansas, where he wrestled for two years before transferring to wrestling powerhouse Oklahoma State. In 2001, Cormier finished second at the NCAA Championships. He graduated later that year with a degree in sociology. He still lives in Stillwater and trains under Oklahoma State coach John Smith, but goes to Colorado Springs, Colo., to train with U.S. National Team freestyle coach Kevin Jackson about six times a year.
An avid video game player, Cormier was married in November 2002 to Robin, whom he credits with the improvement in his wrestling career. "She helped bring a lot of stability to my life," Cormier says. In addition to Ferral, Daniel has an older brother, Joe, and a sister, Felicia. His mother is Audrey Cormier and stepfather is Percy Benoit. Cormier also likes to read and says his favorite author is James Patterson.
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