Cindy Simon: A Paralympic Dream 28 Years In The Making
August 21, 2012— For visually impaired USA Judo athlete Cindy Simon, Paralympic dreams are well worth waiting for even if they are 28 years in the making.
Simon, 41, readily admits her path to the 2012 London Paralympics, at best, is unusual. Simon, who fights in the 57 kg division, is relatively new to the sport of judo. She began training regularly in 2006 at the Kokushikai Judo Academy (Fair Lawn, NJ) with three-time US Judo Olympian, Celita Schutz, and has quietly carved a name for herself as a rising elite judoka. She joins the U.S. Paralympic Team replacing Jordan Mouton, who was forced to withdraw due to injuries.
“I have been waiting 28 years to participate in the Paralympics,” says Simon. “Perseverance is my name!”
In six short years, Simon has earned multiple medals including silver at the 2011 Parapan American Championships, 52 kg, and the 2011 Pan Am Championships for the Blind. Though her dream to compete in the Paralympics was actually formulated during her years as a competitive swimmer specializing in the breast stroke and 100 - meter medley, Simon nurtured a budding curiosity in the martial arts, specifically judo.
“I’ve always been interested in judo, and I think it’s important for women to know self-defense,” explains Simon. “I’m a small woman and my size helps me get to a person’s center of gravity.”
Simon swam competitively between 1984 and 2000, collecting several national rankings including four gold medals at the 1989 Pan-American Youth Games along the way. Yet, despite all of her experience as an elite swimmer, a Paralympic debut remained elusive. In the interim, Simons earned an M.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University followed by a J.D. from NYU's School of Law in 1996, got married and started a family. By all measures, Simon found a way to successfully juggle a demanding personal and professional life along with a rigorous judo training schedule.
“You could say I’ve been time-challenged,” says Simon. “I’m an elite judo athlete, a professor and a parent. I am so excited to be a member of this team. I finally did it. Everything that follows this experience is gravy.”
Heidi Moore, Team USA Judo Paralympic Assistant Instructor, looks forward to Simon’s participation during the games. “We are excited Cindy Simon will participate. Cindy has been on several World and PanAmerican teams, and we expect a strong performance from her.”
To that end, Simon is no stranger to competition pressure. “I’ve had my fair share of the high pressure situations in sports. I know I will do the best I can. After all, I love to compete and I’m ready for this.”
The 2012 London Paralympic Games will take place Aug. 29-Sept. 9. For more information about Cindy Simon and the US Judo Paralympic Team, please visit www.teamusa.org.
ABOUT USA JUDO
A member organization of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Judo is responsible for the development, support and selection of Olympic, Pan American and World Championship Teams. USA Judo is dedicated to the growth and development of the sport of judo at all levels, from grassroots through elite. Men’s judo was added to the Olympic program in 1964 at the Games in Tokyo. James Bregman became the first U.S. Olympic medalist in judo when he captured a bronze in 1964. Women’s judo was added to the Olympic program in 1988 when Lynne Roethke won a silver medal for Team USA and Margaret Castro-Gomez earned a bronze.
During the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Kayla Harrison, 78kg, earned the nation’s first Olympic gold and Marti Malloy, 57kg, earned bronze.