A USA Judo team of visually impaired athletes is bringing home a silver and bronze medal from the 2013 International Grand Prix Infraero Judo held this weekend in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Coaching the team was Brad Daniels of Judan Judo in Portland, Indiana. The three judoka competing were Paralympian Ron Hawthorne (USA Judo Training Site, Olympic Training Center, CO), Josh Farra, (Liberty Bell and Georgian Judo Academy, Coatesville, PA), and Angie Moran (Washington Judo/Georgetown University, Brandywine, MD).
USA Judo strives to provide visually impaired athletes with the same opportunities as fully-sighted athletes. A silver and bronze medal from the Paralympic Games in London last summer demonstrate success.
Josh Farra had a very good day, said coach Daniels. “His first match was against an awkward fighter and after he figured him out, he threw him with a powerful drop seoinage for ippon. In the semis he attempted a koshi guruma which didn't score but lead to a kesa gatame pin for the win.”
In the finals, Farra attacked repeatedly but couldn’t land a score. Then his opponent threw Farra for yuko and then ippon with a drop seoinage. “He ended up with the silver medal which was a big confidence booster,” said Daniels. “A little confidence goes a long way.”
The team will attend a raining camp until May 3.
Hawthorne fought at 60 kg. in a nine-man pool. His first match was against the eventual champion. Hawthorne was caught in hadaka jime and forced to submit, landing him in repechage fighting for bronze. “He threw his second opponent with sasae tsurikomi ashi for ippon,” coach Daniels said.
Hawthorne’s third round was a battle that lasted 15 minutes in real time after the referees had several discussions about applying new rules, Daniels said. “Ron threw his opponent for yuko with seoi nage then he was thrown for yuko with harai goshi. They grip fought several exchanges until Ron countered a kouchi gari for wazari. Another kouchi gari counter for wazari earned him the victory.”
In the bronze medal match, Hawthorne landed “a beautiful uchi mata sukashi for ippon and a spot on the podium,” Daniels said. “The best part was that Ron worked through his frustration and disappointment in losing and showed the heart and desire of a champion.”
Also fighting was Angela Moran in 52 kg. division. She normally plays at 48 kg and the weight difference proved daunting, said Daniels. She fought very hard but went 0-4 in a round robin pool.