USA Judo is in Day Three of what has become its biggest Junior Olympic Championships EVER, surpassing yet another huge indicator that judo is riding a rocket of golden growth and success in the United States.
“Our great athletes have led the charge with their historic victory at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London last summer,” said Jose H. Rodriguez, USA Judo’s CEO. “And USA Judo has been hosting increasingly elite international tournaments, including the Grand Prix earlier this month in Miami – our first Grand Prix ever on home soil. Our membership has grown and you can see the enthusiasm and drive for the sport in the huge numbers of young people who turned out to compete this weekend.” Competition is underway at the Irving Convention Center in the Dallas-Fort Worth corridor.
“That we have so many more young people entering this premier competition is hugely positive for the future of the sport in this country,” said Corinne Shigemoto, USA Judo’s Chief Operating Officer and tournament director at the Irving, Texas, Convention Center, venue for the Junior Olympics. “Hosting super elite senior tournaments like the Grand Prix is a key part of our formula for success. To see this many young people from big and small community clubs all over the country coming here to join the action is so exctiting! The enthusiasm is taking hold and growing. We are on our way!”
Kids 5-17 years-old from Hawaii to New York and south to Florida have been competing for championships and national ranking points all weekend. International divisions are shooting for the podium today with ages as high as 20-years-old.
These young people gained a lot of inspiration from seeing Team USA’s Kayla Harrison (USA Judo Training Site, Pedro’s Judo Center, Wakefield, Mass.) win the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport at the Olympic Games in London last summer. Adding to the historic pitch of the victory, Marti Malloy, 57 kg. (USA Judo Training Site, San Jose State University Judo, San Jose, CA) took an Olympic bronze medal. Team USA’s Myles Porter and Dartanyon Crockett took silver and bronze medals respectively at the Paralympic Games that followed the Olympics in London. Porter and Crockett hail from USA Judo’s Training Site at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.
USA Judo’s Junior Olympic Championships has long been popular but has grown dramatically in recent years. To this and other national tournaments, USA Judo has added a string of glittering, high-profile international competitions including three World Cups, the World Masters for athletes 30 and older, and recently a Grand Prix, all sanctioned by the International Judo Federation and hosted by USA Judo in the iconic destination of Miami.
Elevating judo further in the country, USA Judo is hosting it’s first World Cadet Championships in August, also sanctioned and strictly controlled by the IJF, for junior athletes born 1996 – 1998 (14 through 17-years old). Several athletes climbling the podium yesterday won wildcard slots on USA Judo’s Cadet World Team and USA Judo’s Junior World Team that fights in Slovenia in late October.
Making the U.S. Junior World Team yesterday were Jack Hatton, 81 kg. (Jason Morris Judo Center in Glenville, NY), Willie Inserra, 66 kg. (Sport Judo, Stafford, VA), Ashlyn White, 48 kg. (Somerset Academy-Panther Judo Club, Pembroke Pines, FL) and Lauren Baez, 63 kg. (USA Judo Training Site, Coconut Creek, FL).
Added to the team representing the United States at the Cadet World Championships in Miami in August were Brandon Worthen (Tech Judo, North Bergen, NJ), Devin Sobay, 100 kg. (Texoma Judo, Wichita Falls), Mackenzie Williams, 70 kg. (Becerra Judo & Jujitsu) and Ashlyn White, 48 kg. (Somerset Academy-Panther Judo Club), who made both teams..
By Ernest Pund, USA Judo Communications