Courtesy of WWE.com:
There have been plenty of Olympians that chose to enter the squared circle after their gold medal dreams came to an end, but WWE can now lay claim to a true rarity: having an active Olympic competitor on the roster.
NXT’s Adrian Jaoude received word earlier this month that he has been chosen to represent Brazil in the wrestling competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics later this year in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s awesome,” Robbie Brookside, Jaoude’s coach at the WWE Performance Center, told WWE.com. “Going back to when I was wrestling in England, I knew very good wrestlers that tried to get to there. Seeing Adrian go to the Olympics, it’s like … wow!”
Jaoude joined WWE in October 2015 as part of a class that included Tough Enough winners Josh Bredl and Sara Lee, as well as independent scene standouts Christopher Girard and Rich Swann. Though he may not have had professional wrestling experience like some of his peers, the Brazilian had plenty of familiarity with the amateur style of grappling. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder competed at the state, regional and national level, and was named Best Brazilian Wrestler in the junior category in 2000 and the senior category in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2012. That pedigree helped him pick up the pro game when he arrived at the Performance Center last year.
“Adrian’s come into the group and his natural ability has shone through,” Brookside said. “It’s still very early in his career, but thus far, he’s come in and picked things up – footwork, balance, attitude, application and holds. He’s got a great appreciation and understanding of what it’s all about and puts it to great use.”
WWE Performance Center Head Coach Matt Bloom concurred.
“To be as successful as he’s been, you need to have that desire to be the best in whatever you do. Adrian has that,” Bloom explained. “He understands that this is a whole new process, with new techniques. He knows that by working harder than the guy next to him, he’s going to advance. He’s doing just that.”
With just under seven months to go before the wrestling competition begins, Jaoude is in the midst of a rigorous training program at the Performance Center with strength coach Matt Wichlinski, whose approach to getting the Brazilian ready for international competition is kept simple.
“Basically, we’re doing a general strength-and-conditioning program,” Wichlinski said. “It’s nothing extraordinary as far as different exercises, but it’s about the extraordinary effort he puts into the basics. For what he’s trying to do, all his skills are prepared in the ring and on the mat. He’s coming into the gym to get his shoulders, back and legs stronger.”
As for what having an active Olympian at the Performance Center means, Bloom put it simply.
“It means the best of the best want to be a part of the best of the best, which is NXT and WWE,” he said.
Brookside sees Jaoude’s achievement as something uplifting for the entire NXT crew.
“It’s kind of breathtaking,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing for everyone down here to turn around and go, ‘One of us is going to the Olympics.’ It’s not very often you can say that.”