Led by reigning Olympic champion Kayla Harrison and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marti Malloy, the United States has named the six athletes who will compete in judo at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Joining Harrison (78 kg.) and Malloy (57 kg.) on the women’s team is Angelica Delgado (52 kg.), who will compete at her first Olympic Games in Rio. The men’s team is comprised of two-time Olympian Travis Stevens (81 kg.), 2012 Olympic Trials champion Nick Delpopolo (73 kg.) and Colton Brown (90 kg.), who makes his first Olympic team.
Harrison and Stevens set medal expectations for the team with their victories over the weekend at the World Judo Masters tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico. Harrison defended her title there to solidify her hold on the No. 1 world ranking, while Stevens made history as the first U.S. man to win gold at a World Masters event.
Meet the six judokas who will represent Team USA in Rio:
Angelica Delgado, 52 kg.
Currently ranked No. 25 in the world, Delgado’s first Olympic Games will come in an area of the world where she has enjoyed success: Out of 14 international medals won since 2013, all but three were earned on South American soil. The bronze medalist at the past two Pan American Games, she has won bronze at the Pan American Open in Montevideo, Uruguay, three consecutive years. Delgado, 25, has a pair of bronzes won to her credit from open events in Buenos Aires and Lima this year. Her only international gold medal was earned at the 2014 Pan American Open in Buenos Aires. She has won a silver and four bronzes in either Pan American Games or continental championship competition. As the U.S. athlete with the highest points outside of direct qualifying position, Delgado qualified for Rio based on continental qualification.
Marti Malloy, 57 kg.
Malloy, 29, returns as the reigning Olympic bronze medalist. After winning a gold medal in her first senior international competition at the age of 16 in 2002, she has established herself as a recognized force in the 57 kg. division. Ranked fourth in the latest world rankings, she has dominated Pan American competition the past three years, including gold at the last three Pan American Championships and gold at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Returning to Rio is sure to feel comfortable to her, since her best world championship result, a silver medal, was won there in 2013.
Kayla Harrison, 78 kg.
The reigning Olympic champion and the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in judo, Harrison has been gaining momentum this Olympic cycle, starting with three international medals (one gold, one silver, one bronze) in 2013, then five (two golds, two silvers, one bronze) in 2014. A stellar 2015 produced seven golds, two silvers and two bronzes. The 25-year-old’s recent gold medal at the World Judo Masters meet in Guadalajara, Mexico, solidified her world No. 1 ranking and her status as a gold-medal favorite in Rio. She reached the podium in least one international podium event each year since 2008, compiling two dozen gold medals, nine silvers and 10 bronzes along the way.
Nick Delpopolo, 73 kg.
Currently ranked No. 32 in the world, Delpopolo won the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He placed seventh in London, but was expelled from the Games when he tested positive for cannabis in a post-competition test. Since returning from London he has relocated from New York to Florida and now trains with Evelio Garcia. After medaling in five consecutive Pan American Championships (gold in 2013 and four bronzes), he finished fifth in Havana in April. He was forced to withdraw from the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games when it was determined that he had a sports hernia which required surgery to repair. He enjoyed success in 2014, winning the African Open, taking bronze at the Pan American Championships and the Pan American Open in Miami and racking up six fifth-place finishes in an assortment of grand prix, open and Grand Slam events.
Travis Stevens, 81 kg.
A two-time Olympian already, Stevens, 30, jumped into the Olympic medal mix with his gold at the World Judo Masters competition in Guadalajara over the weekend, vaulting from No. 14 to No. 5 in the latest world rankings. He won gold at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and bronze at the 2015 Pan American Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. He has already enjoyed success in Rio, earning the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games. Stevens suffered losses to Germany’s Ole Bischof at the last two Olympic Games as Bischof went on to win gold in Beijing and silver in London. With Bischof’s retirement after London, Stevens’ path to an Olympic medal may have opened up. He finished ninth in Beijing, reaching the quarterfinals, and fifth in London, falling in the semis.
Colton Brown, 90 kg.
Ranked No. 27 in the world, Brown earns his first Olympic team selection riding a wave of progress, including winning a silver medal at the 2016 Pan American Championships after fifth-place finishes the prior two years. The 24-year-old has won world cup or continental open medals on five continents, including five medals on four continents in 2015. He won the Pan American U-20 title in 2010.