Ronda Rousey (Scotia, N.Y./63kg) had her first taste of success at the top level of senior competition as she won her first two rounds Friday at the World Judo Championships in Cairo, Egypt.
The 2004 World Junior Champion started her day by defeating 2003 World Championship fifth place finisher, Vania Ishii (BRA). Rousey scored a yuko (quarter-point) at the three-minute mark with an osoto gari (large outer reaping) and hung on for the victory.
Rousey then fell behind Nadej Gerasimenko (UKR) by two kokas (smallest points), but recovered to score a waza-ari (half-point) with an uchimata (inner thigh throw), a yuko with osoto gari and into a pin for the win.
Next up for the American was Alice Schlesinger (ISR). Rousey looked to be in control when Schlesinger surprised her with a quick throw for ippon (instant win) with two minutes remaining. Schlesinger then lost to Rousey's North American rival, Marie Helen Chisholm (CAN), eliminating Rousey who had defeated Chisholm earlier this year at the Pan Am Championshps.
"As the day went on my confidence was building and I was feeling great but made a split second mistake which I couldn't recover from," said Rousey, a ninth place finisher at the Athens Games. "I feel as though I am still getting better but there is clearly room for a lot of improvement."
Katie Mocco (Scotia, N.Y./70kg), Rousey's teammate at the Jason Morris Judo Club, also posted a win at her first World Championships, coming from behind to beat Tamara Sesevic (SCG) in the second round after a first-round bye. Sesevic scored an early yuko with drop seoi nage (low shoulder throw). Mocco then knocked down Sesevic and acted quickly to secure a pin and the match.
In her next match, lost to Sisi Rasokisoki (FIJ) and was eliminated from the tournament.
"I feel I am not too far away from being much more competitive at this level," Mocco said.
Aaron Cohen (Buffalo Grove, Ill. ) , a 2003 World Team member, lost a tough opening round battle to Georgi Shindjikashvili (GEO). The Georgian countered a weak uchimata attack by Cohen to grab the early lead then held on to win by yuko despite a late rally from Cohen. Shindjikashvili lost his next match, eliminating Cohen.
"I felt good about my performance, but obviously would have liked a different outcome" Cohen said.
Dariusz Mikolajczak (Brooklyn, N.Y.) fought very well in an opening round loss to 2005 European Champion Dave Alarza (ESP). Alarza managed to score two yukos at different times during the fight but had trouble mounting much of an offensive attack against the game American. Alarza lost his next match to 2004 Olympic Champion and eventual silver medalist, Ilais Iliadis (GRE), eliminating Mikolajczak.
"I was a little overwhelmed by the competition at first but as soon as I got out there my nerves settled allowing me to put up some decent resistance," said Mikolajczak.
1. Lucie Decosse (FRA)
2. Ayumi Tanimoto (JPN)
3. Urska Zolnir (SLO)
3. Driulis Gonzalez (CUB)
5. Marie Helen Chisholm (CAN)
5. Anna Von Harnier (GER)
7. Bok Hee Lee (KOR)
7. Elisabeth Willeboordse (NED)
Also Competed: Ronda Rousey (Scotia, N.Y.), 2-1
1. Edith Bosch (NED)
2. Gevrise Emane (FRA)
3. Catherine Jacques (BEL)
3. Rasa Sraka (SLO)
5. Maryna Pryschepa (UKR)
5. Anett Boehm (GER)
7. Eun Hye Bae (KOR)
7. Sagat Abikeyeva (KAZ)
Also Competed: Katie Mocco (Scotia, N.Y.), 1-1
1. Guillaume Elmont (NED)
2. Abderahman Benamadi (ALG)
3. Roman Gontyuk (UKR)
3. Takashi Ono (JPN)
5. Min Gu Kim (KOR)
5. Anthony Rodriguez (FRA)
7. Dmitri Nossov (RUS)
7. Aleksei Budolin (EST)
Also Competed: Aaron Cohen (Buffalo Grove, Ill.), 0-1
1. Hiroshi Izumi (JPN)
2. Ilias Iliadis (GRE)
3. Mark Huizinga (NED)
3. Andrei Kazusionak (BLR)
5. Hesham Mesbah (EGY)
5. Przemysla Matyjaszek (POL)
7. Khasambi Taov (RUS)
7. Maxim Rakov (KAZ)
Also Competed: Dariusz Mikolajczak (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 0-1