For most of her life, Kayla Harrison's days revolved around one goal. She wanted to win an Olympic gold medal in judo. In London three years ago, she reached her goal, becoming the first American to ever win a gold medal in the sport.

After winning, Harrison ran the typical gold medalist gauntlet of media appearances, travel, parties and awards shows. Her life changed in ways she never expected.

"You spend hours and hours and hours and years in the gym, on the mat, visualizing, and it's all about that one day," Harrison told USA TODAY Sports. "For me, when I got to London, I had never even visualized life after London. I was really surprised by how much my life changed, and how fast that happened."

Now, with the Rio Olympics just a year away, Harrison is working towards a whole new set of goals. She wants to win the world championship in August — becoming the first American to win two — and another Olympic gold medal. Then, she wants to use her platform to help shine a light on sexual abuse.

Brazilian Mayra Aguiar is expected to be her biggest competition. She is the reigning world champion, and won bronze in London. The two have faced each other 12 times, and are 6-6.

"I'm kind of quietly chipping away at getting that number one spot. I definitely believe in fate and destiny. I fought a British girl in the final in London, and I have no doubt in my mind that I'm going to fight Mayra in Brazil," Harrison said.

Harrison lost the No. 1 ranking after a knee injury kept her from competing. The time off after surgery convinced her she still loved her sport.

"When I hurt my knee, it really was, 'Do I still have what it takes to compete at the highest level? Am I going to get back to that athlete I was?'" Harrison said. "It was a slow road back, and sometimes painful. But now I think I'm in a good position to defend my title in Rio."

Her preparations also include setting up her life after Rio. Harrison was sexually abused by her judo coach as a youth. She has started a foundation to both stop future abuses and help other victims. With the help of a psychologist, Harrison is working on a book that she hopes will be used by schools in teaching students about how to handle abuse.

"There's all this educational material on stranger danger and drugs and saying no to alcohol and bullying, but there's not any material on what you should do if someone close to you tries to take advantage of you," she said.

Having a post-Olympic plan in place is important for Harrison. Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Allison Schmitt recently opened up about her struggles with post-Olympic depression after London. Harrison said she understood Schmitt's struggles, and saw something similar happen to a teammate.

"Ronda Rousey quit judo for a year. In that year, she was lost. She didn't know what to do with her life. One of the things I'm working on is making sure that once Rio is over, I have a game plan. There's nothing scarier for an athlete than to wake up and not have a goal."