(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – In a first-ever team tournament between the United States and Venezuela, it was the Venezuelan National Team that won the dual meet on Saturday in Miami.
“What a great experience for our local USA Judo athletes to be able to compete against such an experience and strong Venezuela National Team in front of their home crowd! This is the sort of thing that we need to create an interest in the sport,” said USA Judo CEO Jose H. Rodriguez (Colorado Springs, Colo.) “The fact is that in the media every day here in South Florida it is portrayed how Venezuela and our country are so much at odds, yet our relationship with the Venezuelan Judo Federation could not be any better”
The competition included athletes from 12 weight divisions and was held through a partnership between USA Judo and the International Judo Federation Judo for Peace Commission prior to Team Venezuela travelling to San Jose, Calif. for the U.S. Open later this week.
“In each continent, Judo for Peace attempts to make a positive impact,” said Dr. Ron Tripp (Norman, Okla.), USA Judo General Secretary and a Judo for Peace Committee member. “Here in the Americas we have decided to be a part of the Judo for Peace movement by hosting these types of tournaments. We will soon attempt to organize a similar event in one of the countries in South and Central America.”
Competing for the first time since he was named as an alternate to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, Anthony Turner (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) produced the sole win of the day for a young American squad.
Turner threw Miguel Soto, a fifth-place finisher at the 2008 Pan American Championships for a waza-ari (half-point) score with a harai goshi (hip throw) in the second minute of his +100kg match and then pinned Soto to win the final match of the competition.
A 2007 Pan Am Games medalist in the 48kg division, Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) held off six-time Pan Am medalist Flor Velazquez in the 52kg division where neither player scored and the five-minute match was called as a draw.
Fourteen-year-old Lauren Baez (Coral Gables, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) was the youngest player competing for the United States, but fought well against Luciana Castillo (VEN) with the 57kg match ending in a draw.
Team Venezuela won the remainder of the matches in the series.
In the 44kg division, former Pan Am Team member Veronica Prado (Coral Springs, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) was thrown for ippon (instant win) with a te guruma (hand wheel throw) counter by Orlinda Ortiz.
Brianna Padron (Davie, Fla. / Panther Judo) fought for four minutes in the 48kg division against Diana Ortiz without a score before Ortiz threw Padron for a yuko (quarter-point) score with a harai goshi.
A 2009 Pan Am Team member in the 57kg division, Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) fought up to 63kg for the team competition. Down by a yuko (quarter-point) score, Delgado was thrown for ippon in the fourth minute with an uchimata (inner thigh throw) by Isis Barreto, a seventh-place finisher at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Fifteen-year-old Steve Perez (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) climbed the senior rankings last fall when he placed second at the U.S. Open in the 55kg division. Now a 60kg player, Perez fought Javier Guedez in the first men’s match of the day. Guedez, a seventh-place finisher at the World Championships in August, threw Perez for ippon with a te guruma mid-way through the match.
Rolando Ruiz (Hialeah, Fla. / Budokan Judo Club) was thrown for a yuko score in the final minute of his 66kg match against Ricardo Valderrama and was unable to come back and make up the deficit.
Junior World Team member Andrew Porras (Miami, Fla. / USA Judo National Training Site at North Miami) had one of the most difficult match-ups of the day when he faced Ludwig Ortiz, a fifth-place finisher at the 1999 World Championships, in the 73kg division. Porras rose to the challenge, though, earning the first score of the match when he threw Ortiz for a yuko. Ortiz came back, however, when he countered an attack by Porras and took the teenager to the ground where he was pinned.
Jonathan Fernandez (Miami, Fla. / Baraqua Judo Kai), 2009 Junior U.S. Open Champion, fought Melvin Rodriguez in the 81kg division, but was pinned by the Venezuelan in the final two minutes.
Shawn Blakey (Miami, Fla. / FIU Judo Club) was thrown for ippon with a seoi nage (shoulder throw) by three-time Pan Am medalist Jose Camacho in the 90kg division.
In the 100kg division, Ozzie Norat (Miami, Fla. / Budokan Judo) was thrown with an uchimata for ippon by Antonio Pena.
All of the members of the Venezuelan National Team will be competing against top players from the United States and around the world later this week at the U.S. Open, Sept. 25-26 in San Jose, Calif.
“I think the Venezuelan National team will add a great deal to the upcoming U.S. Open in San Jose and, of course, their athletes will have a great experience as there is no one in the world who can put on a better Judo tournament than San Jose.”