Kayla Harrison and Travis Stevens show off their 2016 Olympic medals. Photo by Bob Roche
By Leah Dearborn
LYNNFIELD — It was a night to get a little bit of that Rio feeling back.
Patrons of MarketStreet Lynnfield had a chance to “Meet the Medalists” at a special event on Wednesday.
A short ceremony at the lifestyle center honored Olympic judo medalists Kayla Harrison and Travis Stevens, both of whom trained at Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield and live on the North Shore.
“The sport changes people’s lives,” said coach Jimmy Pedro, who trained Harrison and Stevens and is a two-time bronze medalist himself. “Whether it’s helping adults to become fitter and healthier or teaching kids how to stand up to bullies.”
Harrison, who began practicing judo at the age of six, won two Olympic gold medals in the sport; one at the 2012 London games and another this year in Rio. Stevens is a 2016 silver medalist sometimes called the “Olympic Warrior.”
Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan presented opening remarks at the ceremony, giving some background information on judo as a martial art that originated in Japan and evolved from Samurai training techniques.
Harrison spoke briefly about Kayla Harrison’s Fearless Foundation, an organization she said she formed to shine a light on child sexual abuse and enrich the lives of survivors through education and sport.
California Pizza Kitchen, which recently opened at MarketStreet, donated 20 percent of dinner sales to the foundation.
“For me, judo was a place to go and just be me,” said Harrison, who is in the process of creating her own training program in addition to authoring a book. “I want a kid to go and be a kid. To have a place not just to survive, but thrive.”
Pedro presented Harrison with a black belt and said that athletes who reach the black belt level graduate from being competitors to being teachers.
Stevens recently set up his own training program in partnership with FUJI Sports and Pedro’s Gym and said he wants to teach kids how set and achieve realistic sports goals.
Harrison and Stevens called MarketStreet a home away from home where they often came to relax after training sessions.
Noel Cadorette, marketing director at MarketStreet, said the lifestyle center hosts around 120 fitness and exercise events over the course of the year.