These are exciting times for USA Judo as the organization heads into the final year of preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. Expectations may have never been higher, at least not since current USA Judo Olympic Head Coach Jimmy Pedro’s competition days. Pedro is the only two-time Olympic medalist for the U.S. in the sport (bronze, 1996 & 2004).
Pedro was also the last American judo world champion (1998) until this year, when Kayla Harrison, who is coincidentally coached by Pedro, took home the gold medal in the women’s -78kg division. Harrison has continued to build on the momentum of her biggest win and has routinely earned gold medals in competitions around the world, propelling her to No. 2 in the world.
The U.S. also has several other promising athletes who have shown they can medal against the best competition in the world. Travis Stevens is currently ranked fifth in the world men’s -81kg division and is expected to contend for a medal in London. Stevens has had a stellar year and has earned several gold medals at world cups, as well as a silver medal at the Moscow Grand Prix, where the competition resembled what he will face at the Olympics.
Also having a standout year for the U.S. is Marti Malloy, who took home silver at the 2011 Pan American Judo Championships in the women’s -57kg division and also earned a gold medal at the 2011 USA Judo World Cup in Miami. Malloy has been on a roll since then, earning two medals at each of the following world cups in South America, as she ramped up her preparation for London.
Two other outstanding USA Judo athletes, Nick Delpopolo and Michael Eldred, have been battling injuries all season and have not been able to achieve the results they have expected. However, despite the injuries, both have remained eligible for the Olympic Games and have a year left to recover and regain form. Once they have healed, both could be favorites to medal heading into the Games.
- Kayla Harrison is the first USA Judo athlete to go into the Olympic Games as the reigning world champion since Jimmy Pedro (1999).
- Kayla Harrison is coached by the only American two-time Olympic medalist, Jimmy Pedro (bronze, 1996 -71kg, 2004 -73kg)
- USA Judo has been funding and sending athletes to more competitions around the world than ever before in order for them to gain the experience and points it will take to make an impact on the Olympic Games.
- Expectations for USA Judo at the 2012 Olympics Games haven’t been higher since the days of Jimmy Pedro, who is now the head coach of the Olympic Team.
- Kayla Harrison: 78kg world champion, current world No. 2 ranking (Wakefield, Mass.)
- Travis Stevens: 81kg, current world No. 5 ranking (Glenville, N.Y.)
- Nick Delpopolo: 73kg, current world No. 18 ranking (Wakefield, Mass.)
- Marti Malloy: 57kg, current world No. 12 ranking (San Jose, Calif.)
- Michael Eldred: 73kg, current world No. 23 ranking (Fruitland, Idaho)
A total of 14 women and 22 men per weight division will be selected by the International Judo Federation based on their position on the world rankings list (excluding host country).
The players are identified by following the ranking position in each category from top to bottom until 22 different countries are found (respectively 14 for women). When a nation has one player ranked in this block, this athlete is directly qualified. When a nation has two or more players ranked in this block, the nation will choose which one of the players will receive the starting place.
In addition, the Pan American region will be allocated eight women's and 13 men's slots across all weight divisions.
The following procedure will be followed:
- For each continent, a union ranking is created using the world ranking list, and it is sorted by the highest points across all categories and gender.
- The players are identified by following the union ranking from top to bottom until all places of the union quota for men and women are allocated.
- A maximum of one athlete per nation can qualify through the union quota across all categories and gender.
- A maximum of two athletes per category can qualify through the union quota.
- Similar to the 2008 Olympic Games, a maximum of 20 additional slots across all weight divisions will be given to athletes selected by the International Judo Federation.
World Ranking List
The world ranking list consists of points from the world cups, grand prixs, grand slams, masters, continental championships, world championships and Olympic Games. The list took effect on May 1, 2010, and all athletes started with zero points, regardless of past world rankings. The process will close on April 30, 2012.
Ranking points will be based on placings at each of the above tournaments, with points available for any result that includes at least one match won. Participation points will only be available for the world championships.
The total of ranking points for each player will amount to the sum of his/her five highest point scores during each 12 month period.
The points for each individual tournament will expire as follows:
- In the first 12 months after the tournament, points count 100%
- After 12 months, the points are reduced to 50%
- After 24 months, the points are reduced to 0%
- Aug. 23-28, 2011: World Championships – Paris, France
- Oct. 14-16, 2011: Grand Prix – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Dec. 9-11, 2011: Grand Slam – Tokyo, Japan
- Dec. 17-18, 2011: Grand Prix – Qingdao, China
- Feb. 5-6, 2012: Grand Slam – Paris, France
- Feb. 18-19, 2012: Grand Prix – Dusseldorf, Germany
- April 26-29, 2012: All Continental Championships
- May 4-6, 2012: Grand Prix – Baku, Azerbaijan
- May 26-27, 2012: Grand Slam – Moscow, Russia
- June 16-17, 2012: Grand Slam – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil