(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) - Justin Flores (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) won his first two Worlds matches in the 66kg division on Saturday, picking up the only two wins for Team USA.
Flores drew a first-round bye before his match against Jean-Rene Badrick (GBR) who, at 17-years-old, is one of Great Britain 's best up-and-coming athletes.
Flores and Badrick have fought twice during the past year with Badrick winning both matches at the British Open in January and in the finals of the U.S. Open in 2006.
This time, Badrick started off quickly again, throwing Flores for a yuko in the first twenty seconds of the match. Badrick backed off a bit, picking up a penalty, and Flores became the aggressor, throwing Badrick for ippon (instant win) with just over a minute remaining.
In his next match, Flores pinned Carlos Figueroa (ESA) for a koka (smallest points). The pin was called off, but Flores locked it in again, pinning Figueroa for ippon.
Flores fought #1-ranked Yordanis Arencibia (CUB), a World and Olympic medalist in the third match. Arencibia came into the match after two overtime wins and was clearly tired. Flores took the lead when Arencibia committed a penalty and he looked set to hold on to it until Arencibia threw him for a waza-ari (half-point) in the last minute. Arencibia looked fatigued for the remainder of the match, picking up another penalty in the last 10 seconds, but Flores couldn't score.
Arencibia advanced to the semifinals, pulling Flores into the repechage. Flores started off well, but got caught and thrown for ippon by Aristidis Kotanidis (GRE) in the first minute of the match.
"We're all very pleased with how the team has done so far," said Coach Jason Morris (Glenville, N.Y. ) "Almost everyone has really performed up to and beyond what we could have expected and there have been some great wins. I think our program is continuing to improve and things will only get better from here, but really solid performances are paving the way for our younger players to build on as well in future years."
Valerie Gotay (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen / 57kg) had one of the most difficult draws of any division, fighting the top two players in the world. Gotay was down by a penalty in her match against Isabel Fernandez (ESP), a World and Olympic Champion and the current #1-ranked player in the division, when Fernandez was penalized for stalling in the last minute, sending the match into Golden Score.
Fernandez was the aggressor in the overtime session and made most of the attacks before throwing Gotay for a waza-ari after a total of eight minutes.
Fernandez defeated her next three opponents to pull Gotay through to the loser's pool where she lost on three penalties to Sabrina Filzmoser (AUT), the 2005 World medalist who is currently ranked second in the world.
After a first-round bye, Pan Am Games Champion Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / 73kg) led by a penalty against Sainjargal Nyamochir (MGL), but Nyamochir threw him for ippon midway through the match.
Nyamochir was thrown for ippon in the last 30 seconds by Bryan van Dijk (NED), 2006 European Championships bronze medalist, eliminating Reser.
Carrie Chandler (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center / 52kg) received an early shido for stalling in her opening match against Antonia Cuomo (ITA) and was thrown for a waza-ari a minute later. Cuomo guarded her lead and received a stalling penalty, then later increased her attacks and threw Chandler for ippon with 18 seconds left in the match.
Kyung Ok Kim (KOR) threw Cuomo for ippon in the next match, eliminating Chandler from the tournament.
Competition concludes on Sunday with the men's 60kg and Open weight divisions and the women's 48kg and Open weight divisions.
Complete results are as follows:
1. Joao Derly (BRA)
2. Yordanis Arencibia (CUB)
3. Arash Miresmaeili (IRI)
3. Miklos Ungvari (HUN)
5. Giovanni Casale (ITA)
5. Armen Nazaryan (ARM)
7. Andreas Mitterfellner (AUT)
7. Sasha Memedovich (CAN)
Also Competed: Justin Flores (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), 2-2
1. Ki-Chun Wang (KOR)
2. Elnur Mammadli (AZE)
3. Yusuke Kanamaru (JPN)
3. Rasul Bokiev (TJK)
5. Sezer Huysuz (TUR)
5. David Kevkishvili (GEO)
7. Konstantin Siamionau (BLR)
7. Robert Gess (GER)
Also Competed: Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center), 0-1
1. Junjie Shi (CHN)
2. Telma Monteiro (POR)
3. Kum Ae An (PRK)
3. Yuka Nishida (JPN)
5. Kyung-Ok Kim (KOR)
5. Erika Miranda (BRA)
7. Georgina Singleton (GBR)
7. Soraya Haddad (ALG)
Also Competed: Carrie Chandler (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center), 0-1
1. Sun Hui Kye (PRK)
2. Isabel Fernandez (ESP)
3. Aiko Sato (JPN)
3. Bernadett Baczko (HUN)
5. Nina Koivumaki (FIN)
5. Giulia Quintavalle (ITA)
7. Yvonne Boenisch (GER)
7. Faith Pitman (GBR)
Also Competed: Valerie Gotay (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen), 0-2