Team USA Winless in Heavyweight Division at Pan American Games
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) - U.S. heavyweights Asma Sharif (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE / +78kg) and Kirk Hoffmann (Colorado Springs , Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / +100kg) each lost in the preliminary rounds of the first day of competition at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Hoffmann, the reigning Pan Am Championships bronze medalist, lost in the opening round to Carlos Cisneros (ARG), a fifth-place finisher at the 2006 Pan Ams.
The match started slowly with both players receiving simultaneous stalling penalties in the first 30 seconds.
Two minutes in, Cisneros was given another penalty, but came back quickly, throwing Hoffmann for ippon (instant win) with a makikomi (wraparound throw).
Cisneros was pinned in the quarter-finals by Joao Schlittler (BRA), eliminating Hoffmann from the tournament as in order to continue to fight for bronze after a loss, the player you lost to must advance to the semifinals.
Sharif, competing in her first international event as a heavyweight since moving up from 78kg, drew Ivis Duenas (CUB), a 14-time World Cup medalist, in the opening round. Down by a penalty, Sharif fought well before getting choked for ippon.
In the repechage, Sharif fought Priscilla Marques (BRA) who won a silver medal earlier this season at the Hamburg Super World Cup.
Sharif again found herself down by a penalty and was thrown with a tai otoshi (body drop throw) for ippon in front of a boisterous Brazilian crowd.
"I was happy to get a chance to have this event in Rio, particularly with the Worlds being here in September. The crowd's so energetic and electric that it was a great experience...it was great to feel that level of energy," Sharif said.
Although many people would have hoped for a less difficult pair of fights, Sharif seemed to welcome the challenge.
"I was very happy with my draw because I fought the toughest player in the first round. I came here for hard fights and I got two quality matches in," Sharif said. "From this experience fighting two quality players, it really reinforces the idea of gaining strength and working on conditioning because, being the smallest in my division, that's going to be key."
Both Hoffmann and Sharif will return to Rio from Sept. 13-16 for the World Judo Championships.
Competition continues tomorrow for Team USA with Adler Volmar (Coral Springs , Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami / 100kg), Rick Hawn (Wakefield , Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 90kg), Marina Lambert ( Chesapeake , Va. / Washington Judo / 78kg) and Ronda Rousey (Wakefield , Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 70kg).
Preliminaries begin at 10:00 a.m. at Rio Centro Pavilion 4, followed by medal rounds at 2 p.m.
Complete results are as follows:
1. Oscar Brayson (CUB)
2. Joao Schlittler (BRA)
3. Joel Brutus (HAI)
3. Carlos Zegarra (PER)
5. Pablo Figueroa (PUR)
5. Carlos Cisneros (ARG)
7. Luis Moran (HON)
Also Competed: Kirk Hoffmann (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center), 0-1
1. Vanessa Zambotti (MEX)
2. Carmen Chala (ECU)
3. Priscila Marques (BRA)
3. Ivis Duenas (CUB)
5. Giovanna Blanco (VEN)
5. Melissa Mojica (PUR)
Also Competed: Asma Sharif (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE), 0-2