One could say that Taraje Williams-Murray (Brooklyn, N.Y./60kg) always has been prone to success at a young age.
After all, he finished high school and enrolled at Long Island University at age 15. By 17 he qualified for the Junior World Team. And at 19 he was competed at the Athens Olympic Games, the youngest member of the U.S. Men's Judo Team by at least eight years.
And on Sunday, Williams-Murray marked another milestone, competing in his first senior World Championships in Cairo , Egypt and matching the best finish for an American - Valerie Gotay's (Temecula, Calif/57kg) ninth place result Saturday.
Williams-Murray opened the day with a loss to eventual fifth place finisher Revazi Zintiridis (GRE) as he was thrown for ippon (instant win) by seoi nage (shoulder throw), but advanced to the repechage where he met his Candian rival, Frazer Will, whom he defeated by waza-ari (half-point) in five minutes. Next up was a win over Navjat Chana (IND) by ippon in four minutes, eighteen seconds before falling to David Larose (FRA) in another five minute match by waza-ari.
"Taraje was a real professional today," said Head Coach Eddie Liddie (Colorado Springs, Colo.) "He lost the first match, but shook it off and fought well during the next three. Taraje showed that he'll only get better in the next few years."
Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif./48kg) drew a first round bye and lost in the second to Ann Simons (BEL) who would later finish fifth. Simons lost her next round to Ok Song Pak (PRK), eliminating Matsumoto.
Kirk Hoffmann (Colorado Springs, Colo./+100kg) was caught in the first round with a double-leg takedown of the Open division, losing to Daniel Hadfi (HUN/100kg) by ippon in 2:32. Hadfi lost in the third round to Georgi Kizilashvili (GEO), eliminating Hoffmann.
Heidi Moore (Englewood, Colo./+78kg) lost in the first round of the Open division to Houda Miled (TUN/70kg) by ippon in 4:07. Miled then lost toYuliya Barysik (BLR/+78kg), eliminating Moore.
Note: Weights indicated in the Open division refer to the division in which these athletes competed earlier this week at Worlds. Athletes with no weight division referenced are only competing in the Open division.
"Overall, I'm really proud of how our team did," Liddie said. "We knew this was a young team, but they all proved themselves. We know what we need to work on and this is just the first step on the way to what will hopefully be a successful Worlds in 2007 and Olympics in Beijing."
Liddie, also head coach of the Olympic Training Center Judo Team was joined on the coaching staff by Jason Morris (Scotia, N.Y.), owner of the Jason Morris Judo Club.
Additional team staff included Team Managers Humberto Lopez (Miami, Fla.) and Sergeant Major E.L.B. Mayfield (Jacksonville, N.C.) , USA Judo Executive Director/CEO Jose H. Rodriguez (Colorado Springs, Colo.), and Dr. Ron Tripp (Norman, Okla.), Head of Delegation and USA Judo President.
Dr. Craig Gelfound (Lancaster, Calif.) and Dr. Ann Cappellari (San Jose, Calif.) served as the team doctors for the trip.
The United States also was represented by referees Dr. Kei Narimatsu (Batavia, Ill.) and Mr. Hector Estevez (Miami, Fla.)
1. Yanet Bermoy (CUB)
2. Frederique Jossinet (FRA)
3. Alina Dumitru (ROM)
3. Soraya Haddad (ALG)
5. Ok Song Pak (PRK)
5. Ann Simons (BEL)
7. Erdenchim Gereltuya (MGL)
7. Kayo Kitada (JPN)
Also Competed: Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif.), 0-2
1. Midori Shintani (JPN)
2. Karina Bryant (GBR)
3. Anne Sophie Mondiere (FRA)
3. Carola Uilenhoed (NED)
5. Yuliya Barysik (BLR)
5. Lucija Polvader (SLO)
7. Verena Birndoerfer (GER)
7. Tsyetana Bozhilova (BUL)
Also Competed: Heidi Moore (Englewood, Colo.), 0-1
1. Craig Fallon (GBR)
2. Ludwig Paischer (AUT)
3. Nam Suk Cho (KOR)
3. Nijat Shikhalizada (AZE)
5. Salamat Utarbayev (KAZ)
5. Revazi Zintiridis (GRE)
7. David Larose (FRA)
7. Gal Yekutiel (ISR)
Also Competed: Taraje Williams-Murray (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 2-2
1. Dennis Van Der Geest (NED)
2. Tamerlan Tmenov (RUS)
3. Jury Rybak (BLR)
3. Yohei Takai (JPN)
5. Sung Ho Jang (KOR)
5. George Kizilashvili (GEO)
7. Martin Padar (EST)
7. Abdullo Tangriev (UZB)
Also Competed: Kirk Hoffmann (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 0-1