Golden Moment: Olympic gold medalist Varner returns home
After Jake Varner won the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics and reached the goal he had been pursuing since he was in high school, he came back to his alma mater, Bakersfield High School, to speak to students about reaching their goals.
“It’s awesome being back at BHS,” said Varner. “It’s great to see these kids and hopefully I encouraged some of them so they can accomplish their goals.
“Nothing is impossible,” he said. “You can do whatever you want. You just got to put your mind to it and work hard at it. Just don’t ever give up.
“It was an exciting moment for me and it’s very surreal,” said Varner on winning the gold medal in wrestling. “All the hard work paid off, and everyday it sinks in a little bit more each day that I’m an Olympic champion and it’s just an awesome feeling.”
Varner showed up to different events around Bakersfield on the three days he was in town. He started by speaking to BHS students and doing the coin toss in the BHS football game on Sept. 7. The next day, he attended a rally at Mill Creek Park and received honors from Mayor Harvey Hall and U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Later that day, he attended the Bakersfield Blaze game, and threw out the first pitch. On Sept. 9 Varner went to an event that was held at Costco. Costco helped raise money so Varner’s family could travel to London to see him compete.
He added that the event he was looking forward to the most of the three days was watching the BHS high school football game.
“It’s been seven years since I’ve been going to school here and it’s been a long journey,” he said.
“There’s a lot of sacrifice and hard work, but it has all paid off.
“I also saw my elementary and junior high school today and talked to those kids and hung out with them,” he said.
“I went to Liberty High School and saw a kid who has cancer right now.
“His name is James Lyle and he’s fighting right now so it was a real honor to go see him.
“I’ve gotten a lot of support from here at Bakersfield,” he said.
“From friends and family and even from people I went to school with when I was younger that I had contact with.
“They told me that they’ve been following me and all the things I have accomplished, which is pretty awesome.
“Just got a lot of support and a lot of people helped my family to get to the Olympics to watch me.”
He added that it shows how much Bakersfield cares about their athletes and anybody in general.
“It feels good to be back because I love Bakersfield,” he said.
“I love coming back. It’s a great place to be from, and I’m honored to say that I’m from here and it’s great to come back to this.”
He explained that the thing he thought separated him from the other wrestlers is that he hated losing so he worked hard to insure that he didn’t lose again.
“I just hated losing,” he said. “I hated it so much it made me sick, so I tried to figure how not to lose anymore and that’s how most athletes in general should think.
“That’s how I thought, so I just figured out how to fix what I needed to fix, and it put me to the next level when I made those changes.”
He explained that he still hasn’t made up his mind if he’s going to continue to wrestle.
“I’m going to make my decision in a few weeks,” he said.
“I just don’t know yet. It’s up in the air so we’ll see.
“I’m just enjoying this right now because you don’t want to put this away and get back too fast.
“I’ve worked on this for a long time and put in a lot of hard work so I think I deserve a little time off and enjoy it a little bit and have some fun.”