First Time In Competition Minnesotan Takes Gold at Visually Impaired World Youth And Student Games

By Ernest Pund | July 13, 2013, 9:55 p.m. (ET)

Competing in his very first judo tournament EVER, Ben Goodrich of the University of Minnesota went 3-0 today taking gold at the IBSA World Youth and Student Games in Colorado Springs, CO, instantly catching the attention of top U.S. coaches on their eternal hunt for talent.

What next? Goodrich is competing tomorrow in USA Judo’s International Championships for the Blind and Visually Impaired, also at St. Mary’s School in Colorado Springs, where about ten fighters await in the brackets of his 100 kg. division, including U.S. Paralympic Silver Medalist Myles Porter.

This may have been Goodrich’s first time competing in a gi, but this legally blind judoka, came equipped with some highly applicable experience. He went 35-3 in his senior year as a high school wrestler and qualified for the state championships, “the big show,” he said, after setting a new winning record at his high school, Concordia Academy.

“He did some nice takedowns and pinned the guys,” said Heidi Moore, tournament director from Denver Judo and an experienced coach of visually impaired athletes.

“It’s was pretty nerve wracking, first judo tournament ever,” said Goodrich, who’s only been doing judo for the last couple years. He’d been introduced to the martial art but decided to take it for a phys-ed class at the university where he soon became a teaching assistant. He really turned up the heat over the last several months, losing 35 pounds, getting back into shape after setting much aside to focus on academics. Then he saw the notice for the tournaments this weekend and decided to jump in.

His chosen throws were kosoto gari, a major outer reap with the foot, and tai otoshi, a forward throw over an extended leg.

“My next big push is tomorrow with the international games,” said Goodrich. “It’s a good weight class, nine or ten guys, three are Paralympic medalists, including Myles Porter. So, tomorrow is definitely going to be the next big step up.”

After the judo competition at the IBSA World Youth and Student Games (IBSA is the International Blind Sports Federation), the Para Pan American Games were held in Colorado Springs, also visually impaired athletes. Tomorrow is USA Judo’s International Championships for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where Goodrich is likely to test his steel against Paralympians.

Other U.S. athletes taking medals, silver and bronze, at the Youth and Student Games today were Korbin Anderson, Josh Farra, Casserius Johnson, Sara Luna, and Nadia Montanez. Countries competing included Brazil, Russia, Sweden, Columbia, Chinese Taipei, Turkey, and Japan.