November 8, 2012 - ‘Old School’ judo fighters from around the planet led the charge today for the Grand Masters World Championships in Miami, amazing onlookers with their combination of thinning hair, throws and pins that only a love of life could perpetuate.
The oldest athlete in the competition appears to have been Ernest Hamsag of Switzerland, 82 years old. He fought in the 81 kg division, lost his first round to a younger man, Hamsag noted, and then complained that he didn’t have anyone else to fight.
Russia dominated the medal count today with eight gold, five silver medals and three bronze. Germany came in second with six gold, three silver and five bronze.
Among the female athletes, Germany had the best showing with three gold and two silver medals, followed closely by France, Great Britain and Venezuela.
Nearly 900 athletes from around the world have registered for the Grand Masters with nearly 80 coming from Brazil and 75 registered from France. The setting for the tournament, the luxurious Doral Resort & Spa may be part of the draw, including legendary golf courses, stunning blue pools and restaurants, all located just minutes from the beaches of mythic Miami.
Competition at the Grand Masters continues at the Doral Resort & Spa tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., Miami time. Facing-off will be athletes in the M1 and M3 divisions, men ages 30 - 34 and 40 - 44. These will be among the largest divisions. With the youngest of these fighters close to their prime, the action should be entertaining and the podiums loaded with some of the finest players in the world.
This is the IJF's fourth Grand Masters World Championship and is proudly hosted by USA Judo.
Female U.S. athletes taking medals today were:
Ekaterina Matrosova, SILVER, 30 - 34 years, 57 kg
Amber Jones, BRONZE, 30 -34 years, 57 kg
Rhonda Morrell-Pruitt, BRONZE, 35 - 39 years, 78+ kg
Sirena Konishi, BRONZE, 40 - 44 years. 52 kg
Leigh Yamada, BRONZE, 40 - 44 years, 57 kg
Tara Kuhne, BRONZE, 45 - 49 years, 63 kg
Diane Manganaro, SILVER, 50 - 54, 57 kg
Male U.S. athletes climbing the podium included:
55 – 59 years old:
Sandy North, GOLD, 66 kg.
Bert Mackey, SILVER, 73 kg
Bradford Burgo, BRONZE, 73 kg.
Teimoc Johnston-Ono, BRONZE, 90 kg.
Carl Plummer, BRONZE, 100+ kg.
60 - 64 years:
Stavan Illes, BRONZE, 81 kg.
Arthur Canario, SILVER, 100 kg.
65 - 69 years old:
Jack Krystek, BRONZE, 66 kg
Katsuji Nerio, BRONZE, 73 kg
Robert Champy, BRONZE, 81 kg
James Kinder, SILVER, 90 kg
Frank Imundi, BRONZE, 90 kg
70 - 74 years old:
Taki Theodoracopulus, BRONZE, 90 kg.
Among those stars from the United States was Bo Svenson, 71, the actor made his film character, Sheriff Buford Pusser, famous in the 70s films, “Walking Tall.” Svenson fought through an injured knee that apparently had him limping onto the mat but did not make it onto the podium.
The younger ‘kids’ begin competing tomorrow with competition ending on Sunday with team competition and open divisions.