Big Numbers Expected at USA Judo’s Senior Nationals This Weekend in Irving, TX.

By Ernest Pund | April 16, 2012, 2 p.m. (ET)

Irving, TX – April 16, 2012 – The number of fighters pre-registered for USA Judo’s Senior National Championships in Irving, TX, April 21 - 22, has far exceeded the count at this time last year for this premier event, which this year doubles as the trials for the Paralympic Judo Team that will represent the United States in London this summer.

This is the second of three major tournaments that USA Judo slated for the Irving Convention Center, smack dab in the middle of the the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, and that has proven to be ideal, said Corinne Shigemoto, Director of Events and Membership for USA Judo. Texas is a “huge judo state” and the location is easy to reach from around the country.

More than 320 judoka had pre-registered as of Sunday for this elite national tournament, a 30 percent increase over last year, she said. Fighters must be at least senior brown belts or black belts and at least 15 years old to enter this highly-competitive tournament for a shot at coveted national ranking points.

“We had a big increase in numbers at the Scholastics recently in Irving, so we’ve been expecting a big bump here, too. This really is such great news for everyone, for judo in the United States,” she said. “We’ve got the Junior Olympics coming up in Irving in July and we expect to have a big turnout for that, too.”

In addition to the Senior Nationals, separate divisions will be held for masters competition (30 and older), brown belts only, kata (judo forms), and visually-impaired athletes. For this last category, the competition will serve as the trials for the U.S. team that will travel to London for the Paralympic Games that open Aug. 29.

Among those fighting for spots on the Paralympic Team, which includes athletes with visual impairments, will be:

  • Myles Porter, 100 kg, (NYAC/U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO), took gold at the highly competitive Parapan American Games in Guadalajara earlier this year, defeating both the gold medalist from the last Paralympics in Beijing, Brazil’s Antonio Silva, and the bronze medalist as well, Juan Carlos Cortada of Cuba.
  • Katie Davis, +70 kg, (Team Sacramento, Sacramento, CA), took silver at the Parapan Games, besting the silver medalist from the last Paralympics, Deanne Silva from Brazil.
  • Jordan Mounton, 57kg (Diamondback Judo, Houston, TX/U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO), won a bronze medal at the 2011 IBSA World Games. Although she was unable to compete in Guadalajara due to an injury, she is looking forward to her second trip to the Paralympics. She competed at 70 kg in 2008, finishing 7th .

Judo is beautifully suited for blind athletes because it relies so much on gripping, balance and core strength. USA Judo considers its visually-impaired stars to be among the best in the sport, with or without a disability.

- Story by Ernest Pund