Medals are always wonderful to win, but when they are accompanied by coveted Olympic qualification points they’re even better.
Judoka Angelica Delgado claimed both on Friday.
The 2016 Olympian, who competes in the 52 kg. class, claimed the bronze medal Friday at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam in Germany, and with it earned 500 points toward Olympic qualification and ranking. Athletes will earn points through May 30, and if Delgado keeps on this path she could contend for a top eight seed and thus improve her chances of not only going to Tokyo but also coming home with a medal.
“I feel great; it feels really good to get a Grand Slam medal in an Olympic year when so much is on the line,” Delgado told USA Judo. “It feels like I could really be a contender to get an Olympic medal this year. Everyone is at these events; these European Grand Slams are probably going to be the hardest tournaments of the year, so I feel really good; it’s a great way to start the year off. I just want to keep getting better and keep improving as the year goes on, but this is a great way for me to start.”
Friday’s medal was Delgado’s second at the Grand Slam level. After making the 2016 Olympic team as a wildcard, she won her first grand prix medal at the first competition following the Rio Games. She then won her first grand slam medal shortly thereafter with a silver at a competition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Delgado was seeded for the first time entering the world championships in 2018, coming in at No. 8. She came into this competition ranked No. 17 in the world but was already the top-ranked U.S. judoka in her class even before Friday’s performance.
After a first-round bye, Delgado won two matches before losing to Amadine Buchard of France, but beat Germany’s Verena Thumm and Israel’s Gili Cohen in the repechage to win the bronze medal. Buchard would go on to win silver, while Japan’s Uta Abe won gold.
The Dusseldorf Grand Slam continues through Sunday.