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USA Judo Takes Gold, Silver and Bronze At Pan American Open in Uruguay

By Ernest Pund | March 17, 2013, 11:11 p.m. (ET)

USA Judo Takes Gold, Silver and Bronze
At Pan American Open in Uruguay

March 17, 2013 – Team USA gathered two gold, two silver and five bronze medals in a hugely successful showing at the Pan American Open in Uruguay over the weekend, the first major tournament for many of the elite athletes since the historic Olympic Games in London.

Travis Stevens, 81 kg. (NYAC/Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.), and Samantha Bleier, 78 kg. (U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO), today capped the weekend tournament by capturing the team’s two gold medals.

Bleier was down by a wazari when she returned with a seoi nage and a pin to win the gold-medal round. Stevens finished his first two challengers with seoi nage. He won his third round on penalties and dominated his last in the final round on the ground for gold.

Kayla Harrison (NYAC/Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.) added the second silver medal for the team, fighting at under 70 kg., one weight division down from where she made history in London at 78 kg by taking the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport. Harrison controlled her first opponent to finish with a pin. She landed her second opponent with a stunning uchimata followed by a pin. She won her third match on penalties but then lost against Colombia’s Yuri Alvear in the final.

Janine Nakao 63 kg. (Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.),  took the team’s first silver yesterday in a division that was heavy with U.S. talent. Nakoa’s 63 kg, division was one of the biggest at the Pan American Open. Hannah Martin (Jason Morris Judo, Burnt Hills, NY) and Alisha Galles (Mojica Judo Club, Lancaster, CA) took the two bronze medals in that division.

Also taking bronze medals were Angelica Delgado, 52 kg (Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center, Coral Springs, FL), Hana Carmichael, 57 kg. (Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.), and Jacob Larsen, 90 kg. (Boulder Judo Training Center/U.S. Olympic Training Center, CO).

Taking 5th place in his division was Myles Porter, who took a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in London. Porter, 100 kg (U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO) is visually impaired, and determined to fight his way up the podiums in the fully sighted tournaments of the world. He came very close to doing that this weekend at the Pan American Open. Also taking 5th was Katie Sell, 70 kg. (U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO).

Overall, the team finished third out of 16 nations in a world where judo is the second most practiced sport, while in the United States it is a relatively minor sport receiving far less funding than in many countries of Europe and Asia.

“This is the first time since the Olympics that we’ve had a big team delegation head to a major international event and we couldn’t be happier with how hard these athletes fought and how well prepared they were,” said Eddie Liddie, USA Judo’s Director of High Performance.

“For the veterans this was a chance to get back into the swing of things, and for the emerging athletes this was a chance to start competing at a higher level. They all really demonstrated terrific enthusiasm and momentum,” Liddie said.


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