Day 3 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games marked the final day of competition at the judo venue, with athletes met once again met with a near capacity crowd.
Dartanyon Crockett, competing in the men's 90kg, was the first U.S. athlete on the mat facing Olivier Cugnon of France. In one of the longest matches of the day, a voice rang through the enthusiastic crowd. “How bad you want this,” yelled Coach Eddie Liddie.
Dartanyon's answer on Sept. 1, 2012, was very clear.
Battling back from injury and fatigue, Crockett won with just seconds left.
“I followed the game plan and continued to push,” said Crockett.
His next match ended quickly in a loss to Great Britain’s Samuel Ingram. Crockett though disappointed, came back from that loss to beat Santos of Brazil advancing him to the bronze medal round.
Russia’s Oleg Kretsul, who came into London defending his gold from Beijing, brought a wealth of experience to the mat versus Crockett’s then two years in the sport.
“Sometimes crazy things happen at the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Coach Scott Moore. “Sometimes people win who aren’t expected to but Dartanyon did everything right. He did exactly what we talked about and won the bronze.”
During his medal ceremony it was clear the experience was, as he put it “a realization of a dream coming true.”
The American women both faced tough losses today. As her competition for these Games came to a close, Katie Davis (+70kg) said “I did the hard work to get here, I am incredibly proud."
Christella Garcia (70kg) agreed, “Everyone can be a judo player but only a select few can be a Paralympic athlete. It is such an honor to be one of those select few.”
The ever energetic Myles Porter (men’s 100kg) was a sea of calm and focus after making quick work of Japan’s Kitazono in his first match.
“Those types of matches come once in a dozen," Porter said. "I can enjoy it for a moment but need to focus on my next match. Ninety-percent of this is mental and for the last six months I have really focused on being mentally ready."
Porter’s approach is admittedly very different from his Paralympic debut in Beijing.
"In Beijing, I finished fifth," he said. "At these Games my plan is very different. There I was thinking about the big picture, the whole experience. Here in London, I am focused on one match at a time. When I go to bed at night, I think about how I will approach things based on individual athletes. I think that is really going to help me.”
Porter’s second round was framed by a hard fought victory over Vladimir Fedin - now it was time for a match he has long been preparing for.
"We are a team," Liddie said. "I watch the other player and come up with the game plan. Together we look at the plan, I talk with him about what I think, he lets me know his thoughts - we take some things out, put some things in and come up with a final game plan."
Porter came up short against the Korean Gwang-Geun Choi capturing the silver but clearly today was one filled with pride. “Silver is nothing to hang your head on,” said Porter.
“You are No. 2 in the world. These last four years I have really proven myself coming up and up and up. To finish this way has been amazing.”
Other action from Sept. 1, 2012:
To commemorate the one year anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, USParalympics.org will look back on the best performances of the Games through Sept. 9.