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Apr 29 JUDO: Team Named for Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Pan Am Championships, May 8-11 in Miami

April 29, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
For Immediate Release April 29, 2008 Contact: Nicole Jomantas, 719.271.9937 (cell) Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us (Colorado Springs, Colo.)-For 13 members of Team USA, the Olympic qualifying process doesn't just begin with the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Judo, June 13-14 in Las Vegas. In fact, it will begin May 8-11 at the Pan American Championships and Olympic Zone Cup in Miami, Fla. as athletes from as many as 42 nations will compete in the final chance to qualify their slot for Beijing. Both tournaments will be held at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE Second Ave., Miami, FL 33131. Competition schedule is as follows: Thursday May 8 Men's 81kg, 90kg, 100kg and +100kg Women's 63kg, 70kg, 78kg and +78kg 10 a.m. Preliminary Competition 6 p.m. Opening Ceremonies, Gold and Bronze Medal Finals Friday May 9 Men's 55kg, 60kg, 66kg, 73kg and Open Women's 44kg, 48kg, 52kg, 57kg and Open 10 a.m. Preliminary Competition 5 p.m. Gold and Bronze Medal Finals Saturday May 10 9 - 11 a.m. Kata Competition 3 p.m. Team Competition Sunday May 11 10 a.m. Olympic Zone Cup (All Divisions) Two years ago the process for nations to qualify divisions started at the 2006 Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires (May 26-27) and continued with the 2007 Pan Am Championships (May 24-27 in Montreal) and Pan Am Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 19-22). The final two tournaments of the five-event series will be the individual Pan Am competition (May 8-9) and the Zone Cup (May 11). The Pan Ams will include as many as 42 nations from North, Central and South America who will be seeking to place in the top six men and top three women in the final rankings from the total results of the five qualifiers. The Zone Cup includes athletes from 13 nations, including the United States, Canada and Brazil, within North and Central America. Although there are 18 athletes on the Pan Am Team, only 14 will be competing in Olympic weight divisions while the remaining four will compete in Open and extra lightweight classes. In addition to qualifying through the region, several of the athletes participating in the Pan Ams already have earned slots for their nation by placing in the top five at the 2007 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro. Ronda Rousey (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) earned one of those precious slots at the 2007 Worlds with her history-making silver medal performance in the 70kg division when she became the first U.S. woman to medal at the Worlds since 1995. Ronda's remaining 13 teammates in Olympic weight divisions all are in varying stages of qualification and the pressure in Miami will be intense as solid performances are needed to guarantee slots for Beijing. Some, like 2007 Pan American Games Champions Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / 73kg) and Travis Stevens (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center / 81kg) are ranked #2 in their divisions and have qualified the United States for Beijing at their respective weights, pending participation in Miami as all athletes who compete earn points in the rankings regardless of finish. Other athletes will need to win Pan Am gold to have hope of progressing on to the next step of their Olympic dreams. In either case, nearly a dozen former World and Olympic medalists are expected to take to the mat in Miami. The Team USA roster is as follows: Women 44kg: Taylor Ibera (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) 48kg: Sayaka Matsumoto (El Cerrito, Calif. / NYAC / East Bay Judo Institute) 52kg: Anna Palmer (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) 57kg: Valerie Gotay (Harlingen, Texas / USA Judo National Training Site at Harlingen) 63kg: Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) 70kg: Ronda Rousey (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) 78kg: Katie Mocco (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) +78kg Heidi Moore (Englewood, Colo. / Denver Judo) Open: Melinda Swanson (Honolulu, Hawaii / Hawaii Tenri) Men 55kg: Keith Beauvais (Thornton, Colo. / Northglenn Judo) 60kg: Taraje Williams-Murray (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) 66kg: Taylor Takata (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) 73kg: Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) 81kg: Travis Stevens (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) 90kg: Garry St. Leger (Brooklyn, N.Y. / NYAC / Legrosports Starrett) 100kg: Christian Aarona (Waimanalo, Hawaii / Makiki Seidokan Judo Club) +100kg: Anthony Turner (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) Open: Daniel McCormick (Wakefield, Mass. / USA Judo National Team FORCE) The team will be coached by Jason Morris (Glenville, N.Y.) and Israel Hernandez (Harlingen, Texas). For more information, contact Nicole Jomantas, USA Judo Director of Communications and Media Relations, at 719.271.9937 (cell) or Nicole.Jomantas@usajudo.us. -END-
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