(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - The first time proved to be a charm for rookie Junior Pan Am Team members Jillian Roman (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center / Boulder Judo Training Center / 63kg) and Helen Delpopolo (Westfield, N.J. / 78kg) who each won gold medals at the Pan American Junior Championships on Saturday in San Salvador, El Salvador.
At an event where Brazil dominated the competition, sweeping the team titles in both the junior (17-19) and juvenile divisions (15-16), Roman and Delpopolo both upset Brazilian players to win their divisions and lead Team USA to a second-place overall finish behind Brazil in the junior division. The United States also placed second in the juvenile division and for the overall two-day tournament.
Roman was undefeated going into the final match against a Brazilian player, but soon found herself down by a yuko (quarter point) score. With 90 seconds remaining in the match, the Brazilian went in for an uchimata (inner thigh throw) which Roman countered with a throw for ippon (instant win).
Competing in a round robin division, Delpopolo won all three of her matches, including an upset of a Brazilian in her second match by three yuko scores
Andrew Porras (Hialeah, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) also fought for gold in the evening finals, but placed second in the 73kg division after his Brazilian opponent threw him for ippon with an uchimata midway through the match. The silver medal marks the fifth for Porras who has competed on four previous Juvenile and Infantile Pan Am Teams.
Three other members of Team USA won silver medals, competing in round robin divisions during the early sessions:
Team USA was undefeated it its bronze medal matches Saturday night, with four athletes each placing third in their respective divisions.
Lisette Abad (San Jose, Calif. / After-School All-Stars / 48kg) and Matthias Montez (Brentwood, Calif. / After-School All-Stars / 81kg) also competed, but both were eliminating after losing their opening two matches.