Team USA takes THREE GOLD in Samoa

By Ernest Pund | Nov. 15, 2013, 3:28 p.m. (ET)

Three U.S. athletes took gold medals on Day One at the Oceania Open in the South Pacific island string of Samoa.

Taking top spots on the podiums for Team USA were:

  • Leilani Akiyama, 63 kg. (USA Judo Training Site, Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO)
  • Nick Kossor, 60 kg. (Jason Morris Judo/NYAC, Glenville, NY)
  • Brad Bolen, 66 kg. (Jason Morris Judo/NYAC, Glenville, NY)

The Continental Opens were previously called World Cups by the International Judo Federation and carry big points for the World Ranking List.

Bolen posted a 3-0 record in the 66 kg division to win his first World Cup title. Bolen beat Austraila’s Noam Tidhar in his first bout by securing first an arm bar and then hisignature choke, dubbed the Bolen Arrow, on Australia’s Nate Katz in the semifinals. In the final, Bolen fell behind Alister Leat of New Zealand early by waza-ari then came storming back throwing Leat with a spectacular tani otoshi for ippon.

Kossor opened his day defeating Australia’s Kevin De Silva by 4 shidos (penalties), then knocked off Australia’s Shang Lin Chua by a counter throw for yuko then pinned him to win with an ippon. Kossor dominated in the final, knocking Hong Kong’s Kin Ting Yu to the mat with uchimata, then finishing with an arm bar for the title.

Kossor said, "I've learned more about competing and myself in this year alone than I have my whole career. “

"It was the first world cup win for both of them, so it's great boost for their confidence heading into next season, not to mention nice to pick up 100 points on the World Ranking List," said their stateside coach, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Jason Morris.

Akiyama first bested Australia’s Tabitha Croton, then Great Britain’s Jodie Mullen to reach the finals where she defeated New Zealand’s Joy Williams for the gold. “Going into the tournament, I had made the decision that I was going to win,” Akiyama said. “I have been working so hard to improve myself and my judo, so when it finally paid off, it was a great feeling. I know I have a lot to work on still and that this is just the beginning,” she said. “I dedicate every win to my mom.”

Brackets and results are posted on FACEBOOK.