How does Sarah Chung bring it home? By proudly representing Chicago as a competitive judo athlete. Sarah was born legally blind and, although she found her way to judo, she actually grew up trying a number of different sports including taekwondo, soccer and cross country. At 15 she attended an all-girls sports camp focused on empowering young women with disabilities. It was there that she first saw a judo demonstration. In December of 2013, she began her training at the Menomonee Judo Club: Paralympic National Training Center in Chicago.

Judo has helped Sarah learn to love her body. She struggled with body acceptance since nine years old and, although she still has issues with it from time-to-time, it’s nowhere near what it used to be. She says she loves herself more because of what she’s learned during practice. 

Nearly two and a half years after beginning her training, with 11 competitions under her belt, Sarah was ready for Brazil. And, although she didn’t qualify to go all the way, she’s training hard as an alternate. We’re still proud to call her part of Chicago’s Team! 

Typical training schedule: Sarah trains five days a week and commutes more than four hours round trip to practice. On a typical training day, she leaves her apartment, walks half a mile to the train station, takes the train an hour and 25 minutes to the Clybourn stop, transfers to a bus, and walks to Menomonee Judo Club. She participates in advanced class and, some days, Para practice and then reverses the whole journey home.

 Eating habits while training: Sarah tries to maintain a balanced diet. She says, she’s admittedly not perfect, but she does her best and stays away from pop and sweets.  

Athletic pre-competition ritual: Before stepping on to the mat for competition, Sarah spends time strategizing with her coach and then envisions the match while listening to music that lifts her spirits. She also journals the night before her competitions.

Chicago roots: Although Sarah has never actually lived in the city she thinks of herself as an honorary Chicagoan because she began traveling independently to and from Chicago at 14. She says she loves it more than the suburbs.

Favorite thing about Chicago: Sarah loves that the city is so diverse. There is a community for everyone and it’s rich with culture. She says there’s never a dull moment  in the Windy City!

Favorite Chicago food: Sarah says she simply can’t choose between Italian beef and deep dish. She says they both rank high in her book.

Plan a day touring Chicago: Sarah has a simple day in mind: Food and the Blackhawks. She says she’d spend the day experiencing the variety of cuisines, from all over the world, Chicago has to offer and then on to the game!