After three days of battle among 536 teens from 80 nations, the medals were very thinly spread among the 80 nations that sent teams to the World Cadet Championships for teens age 15-17 in Miami this week.
Japan held its lead with four gold medals but Canada leapt from 5th to second among nations by picking up a second gold on the third day of competition. From there down, no nation had captured more than one gold medal, an indication of how fierce the competition is at this tournament.
The U.S. had yet to pick up a medal, but several U.S. athletes had advanced through the brackets among the best of the best with two South Florida teens taking a 5th and a 7th place on Thursday, Day One of the tourney.
“Competition at this level is the best of the best of the best,” said Jose H. Rodriguez, USA Judo’s CEO. “These kids are the finest the world has to offer. Fifth place is an excellent job. Remember, from 5th to 3rd is not a far distance, and then it’s easier to reach second and first. Would we like to have medaled? Yes, and we’re getting closer and closer to the podium. Keep in mind, these athletes are now better prepared to compete in the Junior World Championships to be held next year in the United States. I am really proud of all these kids.”
The specific time and location has yet to be determined, said Rodriguez, but he confirmed that USA Judo has secured the prestigious Junior World Championships (ages 15-20) for home soil in 2014.
On Day One, Brian Abreu, 50 kg., of Miami, was on fire, finishing his first opponent, Spain’s Ibai Gracia, with a beautiful uchimata (throw with an upward sweeping leg) in less than 20 seconds after leading with a series of foot sweeps.
Abreu went on to best Venezuela’s Angel Castillo with a throw that he instantly followed with a pin to finish the match. He lost his third match to Japan’s Wataru Umekita and then a fourth to bronze medalist Amartuvshin Bayaraa of Mongolia to finish 7th out of 33 of the best teens in the world.
"I thought I did really well at the World Cadets,” said Abreu. “I lost focus and that cost me some fights. I might be able to go to Youth Olympics (next year in Nanjing). I am focused on training harder and harder each day."
Also on Day One, Adonis Diaz, 55 kg., went 3-2 to finish 5th out of 46 on the first day. This Miami teen shot again and again for arm-bars, never appearing fatigued himself but clearly beating down his opponents with relentless assaults. He lost his third round but regrouped to claim another victory to finish 3-2 for a 5th place out of one of the largest divisions at the World Cadets with 46 fighters.
"At World Cadets I learned that you have to fight 100 percent,” said Diaz. “I did pretty well, so that means my judo, at my level, is world class. It gives me confidence to know that I can fight at a world class level. Next, if my hand heals, in October I plan to go to Junior Worlds in Slovenia. In November, I plan to go to the Dallas Invitationals and the President's Cup where I plan to debut in a new weight class, 60 kg."
Coming from another U.S. foundry of judo talent in the United States, Alex Hyatt, 44 kg., of Cahill’s Judo in San Bruno, CA, this San Franciscan dominated her first match on the first day of competition, finishing Colombia’s Dana Gomez with an ippon, but then faced Japan’s Mari Suzuki, the eventual gold medalist in the division, losing with no chance for another match. “This was my first big international competition,” she said, “and I feel that although I lost to the eventual gold medalist, I have gained so much experience and have realized what my weaknesses are that I have to work on in the near future.” Hyatt said she begins preparing immediately for the Junior World Championships in Slovenia.
Hailing from Hawaii Tenri Judo in Honolulu, Cole Chandler, 60 kg., on Friday, Day Two, won his first match by ippon against Hungary’s Krsztian Toth to advance but lost his second round with no opportunity to regain traction.
For complete results and brackets, go to WWW.IPPON.ORG.
Going for grips and throws tomorrow, the last day of competition, for Team USA are the heavyweights:
Prize money totals $50,000 for those making the podium at the Cadet World Championships. Only 16 gold medals can be won among the 536 athletes here at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. All the competitors had to qualify at various other elite tournaments to be here.
Competition begins at 10 a.m. EST. Watch the action LIVE via webcast at WWW.USJUDO.ORG.
Go to the complete US ROSTER.
Taking medals on Day Three were:
Bronze, Tatsukawa, Rina (JPN)
Bronze, Harachi, Sarah (FRA)
Silver, Murakami, Kanna (JPN)
Gold, Schwille, Jennifer (GER)
Bronze, Milic, Arso (MNE)
Bronze,Godizov, Rusian (RUS)
Silver, Kirakozashvili, Tamazi (GEO)
Gold, Ramazanov, Zaur (RUS)
Bronze, Mullenberg, Lisa (NED)
Bronze, Piovesana, Lubjana (GBR)
Silver, Prevot, Ines (FRA)
Gold, Gercsak, Szabina (HUN)
Bronze, Igolnikov, Mikhail (RUS)
Bronze, Bubanja, Marko (AUT)
Silver, De Wit, Frank (NED)
Gold, Krieber Gagnon, Louis (CAN)
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 quick facts about judo: