December 8, 2012 - A USA Judo team of junior fighters picked up one gold and two bronze today at an annual international tournament in Harnes, France.
Gabrielle Proksa, 70 kg (Granite State Judo Institute, Dunbarton, NH), took two matches by ippon on the way to the finals, “and with a beautiful ogoshi she won the match and got the first gold medal for the USA,” said team Coach Sauveur Soriano from Westchester Judo of Scarsdale, N.Y.
“What a tremendous accomplishment for Gabriela,” said Jim Hrbek, USA Judo’s chairman of the Junior Athlete Performance Committee. Granite State Judo, where her father, Robert Proska is head coach, “is definitely on the map now,” Hrbek said.
The gold was added to two bronze medals claimed by U.S. juniors Jackson Butler, 42 kg (Tri-Valley Judo, Pleasanton, CA), and Leon Simakhov, 34 kg (Georgian Wrestling School, Brooklyn, NY).
These are the first juniors who train in the United States to place at this tourney, Hrbek believes. The United States had a young fighter place at the Harnes tournament previously but that athlete trained in England, Hrbek said.
For Butler, his victory was particularly noteworthy. His age division at the tournament was for athletes born 1999-2000. Jackson, though, was younger, born in 2001. “We were able to arrange permission for him to enter the older division,” so Jackson was among the youngest, if not THE youngest, in the division, Hrbek said.
Competition continues tomorrow, Sunday. The complete team includes:
Joshua Briggs, 50 kg (Ippon Judo, Jujitsu, Karate LLC, Peachtree City, GA)
Rachael Butler, 63 kg (Tri-Valley Judo, Pleasanton, CA)
Madison Montgomery, 57 kg (Ruben Martin Judo Training Center, Burleson, TX)
Gabrielle Proksa, 70 kg (Granite State Judo Institute, Dunbarton, NH)
Leon Simakhov, 34 kg (Georgian Wrestling School, Brooklyn, NY)
Jackson Butler, 42 kg (Tri-Valley Judo, Pleasanton, CA)