Coronado celebrates ‘06 grad Henry Cejudo’s Olympics gold medal

       U… S… Cejudo! Henry Cejudo as a junior at Coronado in 2005.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Coronado High School Athletic Director Dave Howard said he was inspired to coin this slogan after '06 Coronado graduate Henry Cejudo (pronounced Say-WHO- dough) captured a freestyle wrestling gold medal for the United States at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 19. He defeated Tomohiro Matsunaga of Japan in the 55 kilogram (121-pound) weight division.
       Howard may have company in a chant for Cejudo Friday, Aug. 22 when the school recognizes the 21-year-old alumnus during a previously scheduled back-to- school assembly. "We've dubbed it red, white and blue day," Howard said. "We'd like to have a video clip of the final period of his medal bout and the medal ceremony."
       Another possibility, according to Howard, is Coronado's annual Homecoming Parade Oct 4. With the champion wrestler expected back in the States by then, Howard hopes to have him in the parade. "We think he should be front and center," Howard enthused. "We are just extremely proud to have one of our native sons represent this school, school district, city, state and country."
       Cejudo was born to illegal immigrants, never saw his father after age 4 and lived with his older brother while attending Coronado. Known for an unorthodox wrestling style even while winning two state high school championships, he has retained that label in becoming the youngest American ever to win a freestyle title.
       In an interview with the Westside Pioneer in February 2005, as a junior, Cejudo said that at state that year he could have pinned his opponent 18 seconds into the match, "but deliberately passed up the opportunity on the way to an easy 22-7 win. A quick pin would have provided too brief a show for his mother, who was visiting from Arizona."
       After high school, Cejudo bypassed college to focus entirely on training at the Olympic Training Center. He didn't move past the established wrestlers right away. Last year he finished 31st at the world championships.
       "That just shows you how hard he's worked," Howard said. "He's probably the most determined kid I've ever met… He's shocked the wrestling world."
       A Sports Illustrated online article quoted Cejudo after his victory: "I'm proud of my Mexican heritage, but I'm an American. It's the best country in the world. They call it the land of opportunity, and it is. Maybe if some other kid watches this, he can do the same.''

Westside Pioneer article