100 Days Until Olympics Open In London

By Ernest Pund | April 18, 2012, 3:22 p.m. (ET)

It is just 100 days until the opening of the Olympic Games in London and, for USA Judo, a hundred days from a strong shot at making history.

Kayla Harrison, 78 kg (NYAC/Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass) wowed the world when she took gold at the World Championships in 2010 in Tokyo. From there, she hardly paused, claiming spots on the podium at one major international tournament after another. Harrison just brought home two gold and one silver from a tour of pinnacle European competitions in February, collecting victories over the last of virtually any serious fighter she would face across the mats at the Olympics.

That brings us to the brink of history that she could make. Harrison is a favorite to take gold at the Olympics. She would be the first from this nation to do so in judo.

And while Kayla is leading the charge up the podium, she is joined by several athletes on the U.S. roster who could also easily medal, including Travis Steven, 81 kg (NYAC/Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.), Marti Malloy, 57 kg (USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University. San Jose, CA) and either Nick Delpopolo 73 kg (NYAC/Jason Morris Judo Club, Scotia, NY) or Michael Eldred 73 kg (Western Idaho Judo Institute, Fruitland, ID) – These last two are slated for the ‘Hour of Power’ when they face off at the U.S. Open in Miami next month for the one spot on the U.S. Olympic Judo Team in their shared division … There’s only room for one.

 "I am very excited to be just 100 days out from the Olympic Games in London as we at USA Judo have a chance to make Olympic history with our first Gold medal, and first multiple Olympic medal performance in over 24 years," said two-time Olympic bronze medalist and U.S. Olympic Judo Coach Jimmy Pedro.

"The USA Judo squad that will step on the judo mat in London is one of our youngest ever,” Pedro said, “but this team has been preparing for the last eight years for this day as a team, and they have gained the experience needed to excel."

"What great 4 years these have been and what a great pleasure it has been to be president of USA Judo in these successful and changing times for our sport and our organization,” said Lance Nading. “I have seen our medal hopefuls grow up  in body, experience and spirit. And that’s not to forget the great work that our coaches have done with our youth to get us where we are today. We are so very proud of what together we have accomplished."

" I am so looking forward to seeing the results of the work by our athletes, coaches, parents and membership these last 8 years, come to play in the London 2012 Olympic Games,” said Jose H. Rodriguez, USA Judo’s Chief Executive Officer. “My sincere ‘thank you’ to each and everyone in the American Judo family for the support they have provided our athletes and coaches to get where we are today. I, too, congratulate and thank not only the athletes who will represent us in London in just 100 days, but all of the athletes on whose shoulders stand our medal hopefuls. The success that we will savor in London belongs to all of you members, friends and supporters."

Let the countdown begin.