Katherinne Lieby recalled the snapping of ligaments in her knee.
She’d gone in for an ouchi gari, an inner leg reap, when her opponent countered. Lieby’s knee twisted suddenly and the pain was greater than she’d ever experienced.
Surgery was in July last year. She spent seven months in rehabilitation – no judo but the videos she studied to stay on top of her sport. Now, she’s back and headed for one of the most prestigious junior tournaments on the planet, the World Cadet Championships, slated for Aug. 8-11 at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, with more than 550 teens qualified from more than 80 nations.
“I think it is a real honor to be at this tournament and so young,” said Lieby of Pembroke Pines near Miami. She turned 15 in February. On the mats next week she could face young women 17 years old, all of them bent on climbing the podium for a share of the $50,000 in prize money and a spot at the Youth Olympic Games next year in Nanjing.
It was a few weeks ago that Lieby got a call from her mom, who was on a trip to see Katherinne’s father working in Ohio. “You just made the Cadet Team,” her mother said. “I started crying, I was so happy!” Katherinne recalled. Another girl on the roster had been injured and was unable to compete, an unfortunate happening but Lieby moved into the spot.
Lieby said she is excited and nervous and eager to stand on the podium, showing the world that her country is a force to be respected on the mats.
Of the knee injury, she said, it was an accident, “one of those obstacles you face as a judoka.” And, apparently, one of those obstacles that Lieby overcame.
Lieby is among 19 members of the U.S. team, coming from all over the nation, Hawaii to New York, California to Florida. Six are from Florida, a rising power of young judo talent. See the US ROSTER.
For more on the competition, go to WWW.USJUDO.ORG.
The World Cadet Championships is sanctioned by the International Judo Federation and hosted by USA Judo, the national governing body under the U.S. Olympic Committee that fosters the sport and builds teams for Olympic and other elite competition. The World Cadet Judo Championships is made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.
Some facts about judo: