JUDO: 2008 Pan American Championships to Come to Miami, May 8-11

April 02, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
For Immediate Release April 2, 2008 Contact: Nicole Jomantas, 719.271.9937 Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us Cuba Among Nations to Compete in Final Olympic Qualifier (Colorado Springs, Colo.)-USA Judo announced in a press conference at the Miami-Dade Sports Commission today that the 2008 Pan American Judo Championships and Olympic Zone Cup will be held May 8-11 in Miami, Fla. at the James L. Knight Center. World class athletes from Central, South and North America as well as the Caribbean region will be competing at the Pan American Championships where they will be vying for the final opportunities to qualify their slots for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing."This is turning out to be one of the most important judo events in this hemisphere as what is at stake is the right to compete at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games,"said USA Judo CEO Jose H. Rodriguez."Obviously, the magnitude of the presence of the Cuban team within the Miami community opens doors that a few years ago would never have been imagined. These Championships will mark a new era of judo for both countries as less than two weeks prior to Cuba competing in Miami, our athletes will be competing in Havana at the Jose Ramon Rodriguez and Golden Judoguis Championships."The Pan Ams are the fourth qualifying tournament for the Games with the previous three being held at the 2006 Pan Ams in Buenos Aires, 2007 Pan Ams in Montreal and the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro. Competition will be held May 8-9 in the individual divisions and May 10 in the kata and team divisions. On May 11, 13 nations from North and Central America will have the opportunity to compete in the final qualifying event for Beijing-the Olympic Zone Cup. Following both tournaments, nations will be ranked based on their placement in each of the seven men's and seven women's Olympic weight divisions at each of the five tournaments. Teams that did not already qualify to send an athlete to the Games in a given weight division by placing in the top five at the 2007 World Championships must place in the top six for men and top three for women. There will be more than 200 participants, both male and female, from the 42 countries in the region. Among these athletes will be the teams from such countries as Argentina that will be fielding a team that is expected to include former World Champion Daniela Krukower. Brazil also will be sending a powerhouse team that is expected to include two-time reigning World Champion Joao Derly as well as his 2007 World Champions Luciano Correa and Tiago Camillo. Brazil's women's team also will be strong, including two-time World bronze medalist Edinanci Silva. Look for a strong presence from Cuba as well. Known for having one of the best women's team in the world, Cuba is scheduled to bring four former World Champions on the women's side as well as 2007 World medalists Yordanis Arencibbia and Oreidis Despaigne. Teams from Canada, Colombia and Mexico also will be bringing 2007 Pan Am Champions back to compete not only for another gold medal, but also for the opportunity to represent their nation at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Team USA will be looking forward to competing in front of their home crowd. Last year, the United States had one of the most successful Pan American Games in history, winning a total of six medals, including three golds. World silver medalist Ronda Rousey (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) will be one of the favorites to win her fourth Pan Am gold medal while Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) and Travis Stevens (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) will be back to defend their 2007 Pan American Games titles. Anthony Turner (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) is one of several athletes from the South Florida area who may have the opportunity to compete in front of a hometown crowd. With 42 nations eligible to compete, any number of players could reach the top of the podium not only in Miami, but also at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The event will be hosted by presented by the Pan-American Judo Union, USA Judo - Florida State Judo Yudanshakai, Kolychkine Judo Foundation, James L. Knight Center, City of Miami and the Miami-Dade Sports Commission For more information, contact Nicole Jomantas, USA Judo Director of Communications and Media Relations, at 719.271.9937 or Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us. -END-