That’s exactly what happened for Ben Goodrich of the U.S., who took home a silver medal Sunday despite dropping the finale of the men’s 100-kilogram judo competition to Christopher Skelley of Great Britain by waza-ari in four minutes at Nippon Budokan.
“I'm happy with the result compared to my first entrance to the Paralympics in 2016. Second is a whole lot of improvement from ninth,” said Goodrich, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota. “Hopefully, if I'm around again in Paris (2024), we can improve on that and get some gold coming our way.
“I came here to win a gold, but I won a silver, so I'm totally happy with the silver medal.”
The 28-year-old Goodrich said the silver was bittersweet as it came against a competitor he knows quite well. Skelley, who was third at the 2018 world championships, was the European champion in 2017.
Goodrich, on the other hand, didn’t begin judo until 2011, when he was introduced to the sport in a physical education elective course at the University of Minnesota. The former high school wrestler was a natural and was starting to clim the ranks two years later.
“I've beaten Skelley before,” said Goodrich, who now works for the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a sales tax technician while training full time. “He’s a tough match. He's a good guy. We brawl a lot.
“It was a hard match, but it was the shortest one today. It was a hard fight — four minutes. He's got a great technique, but I went out there and did what I could.”
Skelley, also 28 years old, was equally complimentary of Goodrich.
“I’m pretty relieved because it was an awful fight,” Skelley said. “It was just a dogged, horrible fight. Ben Goodrich is a fantastic athlete, and he pushed me all the way.”
Goodrich had earned his spot in the gold-medal match with a waza-ari win over Anatolii Shevchenko of the Russian Paralympic Committee in the quarterfinals and a victory by ippon against Antonio Tenorio da Silva of Brazil in the semifinals.
“I know hundreds and thousands of people here and back in the U.S. are super happy for me,” said Goodrich, “and in Sweden, of course.”