USA Judo on Talent Hunt For Visually Impaired Athletes

By Ernest Pund | Oct. 02, 2013, 1:19 p.m. (ET)

USA Judo Paralympic Team

Top Paralympic coaches are headed on a talent hunt this weekend for USA Judo, working to spread the sport among visually impaired athletes and military personnel. They’ll also be hunting for the next Dartanyon Crockett and Myles Porter, who took medals at the Paralympic Games in London last summer.

USA Judo’s 2012 Paralympic Coach at the Games in London, Scott Moore, is headed to Tennessee, where the Association of Blind Athletes is hosting an adaptive sports conference.

Longtime Paralympic coach Walter Dean, head sensei at San Diego Judo and Jujitsu, is headed for the 7th Annual Disability Sports Festival at California State University, San Bernardino, where more than a thousand athletes and military personnel are expected this weekend.

This is the first time that judo will be among the more than 25 sports at the San Bernardino event, presenting a huge opportunity for judo, said Dean, who’ll be working with about a dozen Southern California coaches to show these men and women what they could be doing athletically.

“We’ll be getting them onto the mat doing stuff, rather than us just demonstrating,” Dean said.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some athletes who want to go further, and we’ll get them into dojos,” Dean said. And, “if they really want to put their nose the stone, there is a future for them possibly in the Paralympics.”

Both endeavors are part of the ongoing efforts by USA Judo to foster the sport among athletes with disabilities and find the next Paralympic medalists, like Crockett and Porter, who were discovered by coaches at events similar to these, said Eddie Liddie, USA Judo’s Director of High Performance. Liddie will be among those joining Dean at the Sports Festival in San Bernardino.

“We want to expose as many visually impaired and blind to the sport as we can,” said Moore, who will conduct three 45 minute demos at the conference in Tennessee. Moore, whose dojo is in Denver, CO, will be working at the conference with Brad Daniels of Portland, Indiana, USA Judo’s team manager at the 2011 World Championships in Turkey for visually impaired judoka.