Judo competition to heat up Grand Strand over weekend

Myrtle Beach, SC - COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (WMBF) – More than 400 athletes are expected to compete at the USA Judo National Championships on Saturday and Sunday in Myrtle Beach.

Competition will be held in senior elite, masters (over 30), kata (forms) and Paralympic divisions for legally blind athletes at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, located at 2101 N. Oak St.

The Senior National Championships will serve as the World Team Trials for athletes looking to compete at the 2010 Senior World Championships, Sept. 9-13 in Tokyo, Japan. The World Championships will be one of the first major qualifying tournaments for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Visually Impaired National Championships will serve as the Trials for athletes seeking to qualify for the 2010 Pan American Championship Team for the Visually Impaired.

In addition to fighting for gold, athletes also will be competing for cash prizes as any athlete who wins a semifinal match by an ippon of any kind (throw, choke, armbar or pin) will win $100. Athletes who win finals by ippon will earn $200.

Among the athletes competing will be at least three 2008 U.S. Olympic Team members, including Ronda Rousey (Santa Monica, CA/NYAC) who will be competing in her first major event since winning bronze in Beijing. Rousey, who will be returning to the 70kg division, has never been defeated at the Senior Nationals and will be vying for her sixth title at the age of 23.

Since placing ninth in Beijing, Travis Stevens (Wakefield, MA/NYAC/USA Judo National Team FORCE), has become an international player to watch in the 81kg division, medaling at the 2009 and 2010 Senior Pan Ams and becoming one of just four U.S. men to medal at the Paris Grand Slam.

Daniel McCormick (Wakefield, MA/NYAC/USA Judo National Team FORCE) also placed ninth in Beijing – a finish that the +100kg player has since followed with bronze medals at the 2009 Belo Horizonte World Cup and 2010 Senior Pan Ams.

All 14 members of the 2009 Senior World Championship Team are scheduled to compete as well as members of the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team.

Competition schedule is as follows:

Saturday, May 1

9 a.m.

  • Senior elite preliminary, semifinal, repechage and bronze medal matches
  • Men's 81kg, 90kg, 100kg and +100kg
  • Women's 63kg, 70kg, 78kg and +78kg

1 p.m.

  • Visually impaired and masters divisions

5 p.m.

  • Senior Gold medal finals

Sunday, May 2

9 a.m.

  • Senior elite preliminary, semifinal, repechage and bronze medal matches
  • Men's 55kg, 60kg, 66kg, 73kg and Open
  • Women's 44kg, 48kg, 52kg, 57kg and Open

1 p.m.

  • Kata

5 p.m.

  • Senior Gold medal finals

Athletes to watch this weekend include the following:

  • Ronda Rousey (Santa Monica, CA/NYAC), 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and 2007 World silver medalist

  • Travis Stevens (Wakefield, MA/NYAC/USA Judo National Team FORCE/81kg), ninth-place finisher at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2010 Paris Super World Cup medalist

  • Daniel McCormick (Wakefield, MA/NYAC/USA Judo National Team FORCE/+100kg), ninth-place finisher at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 Belo Horizonte World Cup medalist

  • Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, MA/NYAC/USA Judo National Team FORCE/78kg), two-time World Cup medalist and 2010 Pan Am medalist

  • Michael Eldred (Fruitland, ID/Western Idaho Judo Institute/73kg), 2009 OJU World Cup medalist and 2009 Pan Am medalist

  • Aaron Cohen (Buffalo Grove, IL/NYAC/Cohen's Judo/90kg), two-time U.S. Olympic Team alternate and five-time Pan Am medalist at 81kg

  • Garry St. Leger (Brooklyn, NY/NYAC/Legrosports Starrett/90kg), 2008 U.S. Olympic Team alternate and three-time Pan Am medalist

  • Marti Malloy (San Jose, CA/USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University/57kg), 2010 Pan Am silver medalist and ninth-place finisher at the 2007 Senior World Championships

  • Janine Nakao (Wakefield, MA/NYAC/USA Judo National Team FORCE/63kg), 2010 Pan Am silver medalist and 2009 Senior World Team member

  • Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, FL/USA Judo National Training Site at South Florida/52kg), two-time Pan Am medalist and 2007 Senior World Team member

  • Kyle Vashkulat (Glenville, NY/NYAC/USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center/100kg), 2010 Pan Am medalist and two-time Junior World Team member

  • Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, MA/NYAC/USA Judo National Team FORCE), 2009 Pan Am medalist and 2009 Senior World Team member

  • Anthony Turner (Miami, FL/USA Judo National Training Site at South Florida/+100kg), 2008 U.S. Olympic Team alternate and 2001 Pan Am medalist

  • Greg DeWall (Colorado Springs, CO/USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center/90kg), 2008 Paralympic bronze medalist

  • Myles Porter (Colorado Springs, CO/NYAC/USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center/100kg), 2010 Blind World Championships bronze medalist

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