Edition No. 36. Winter, 2003. Today is

Pan-American Games Judo Competition
Santo Domingo: August 9 - 12, 2003
Day 4

By Barnaby Chesterman
There was cheer all around on the final day of judo competition at the Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo, Domincan Republic. The Pan-American president Jaime Casanova celebrated his 52nd birthday and was invited onto the tatami by the Dominican contingent to cut a cake amidst great cheers. But after the festivities began the serious judo and once again it was the heavyweights, Cuba and Brazil, who came to the fore.

Women's over 78kg
Cuba's Daima Beltran, the overwhelming pre-tournament favourite, justified her star billing to take the title but the most striking factor in this category was the celebration of the silver medallist. Venezuela's Geovanna Blanco was overcome with emotion when she qualified for the final after her semi-final victory against Ecuador's Carmen Chala. Blanco was dominant from start to finish in that contest, scoring Waza-ari with Tai-otoshi before adding Koka to her score-card. And when she dismissed the Ecuadorian with a lovely Uchi-mata-maki-komi for Ippon, she and her team-mates celebrated as if they had won the biggest prize of all.

That was to elude her as Beltran demonstrated her class from start to finish. Blanco tried to rough her up but the former World champion soon took control. She bowled Blanco over for Waza-ari with a hip throw before moving effortlessly into a hold - from which there was no escape. A year ago, Blanco caused a shock in the Pan-American team competition when she flipped out from underneath Beltran while being pinned, but the Cuban was not going to give an inch this time.

Chala gained some reward for her efforts when she won a tense battle against Nanoushka St Pre of USA for bronze. The two were evenly matched throughout and it was eventually decided by penalties. Chala, marginally the more attacking won the day by the narrowest of margins. C|anada's Olia Berger had it somewhat easier after Brazil's Priscila Marques withdrew from the other medal contest with an injured elbow. She never recovered form the brutal armlock Beltran applied to her in the semi-final.

Men's over 100kg
For just a moment there was a sniff of a major upset, one that would have sent shockwaves rumbling through the compact stadium in Santo Domingo. When the unheralded Joel Brutus from Haiti toppled the mighty Brazilian Daniel Hernandes, hearts were in mouths. Hernandes was setting up his Harai-goshi when Brutus switched the direction of the attack and turned in for Harai-tsuri-komi-ashi. Hernandes was drawn onto his toes and started to tumble in a circular sideways movement - that was the moment.

The crowd held its breath in disbelief, anticipating a shocking Ippon. But it never came. Hernades regained his composure to stumble first onto his knee, then his back-side and then his side and he only lost a Koka. By that time both had been penalised to Chui so the damage was minimal and there were still three full minutes and more in which to rescue the situation. So Hernandes used his experience to great effect and pressured Brutus into giving away two more penalties and the title. So Brazil ended on a high, topping the medals table for men and coming second overall to Cuba.

Rigoberto Trujillo made sure every Cuban went home with a medal as he finished strongly to take bronze. He came within a whisker of the final in a compelling semi-final against Hernandes. But after he was thrown for Ippon during golden score, he had to settle for a fight for bronze. He outclassed Douglas Cardozo of Venezuela and two Maki-komi scores for Waza-ari each settled the affair. Martin Boonzaayer of USA joined him on the podium after a remarkable comeback against Argentina's Orlando Baccino. The Argentine caught him twice early on with superb Okuri-ashi-barai sweeps - the first for Waza-ari and the second for Yuko. Boonzaayer was almost out but back he came with a vengeance. First he scored Waza-ari with an excellent Ouchi-gari that was close to Ippon. But that came with his next attack, a devastating Osoto-gari to end a truly wonderful contest.

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GOMEZ, Angelo (USA)



CANTO, Flavio (BRA)

OLSON, Brian (USA)





CARRION, Danieska (CUB)

MELO, Neyla (COL)

LUPETEY, Yurisleidis (CUB)



SILVA, Edinanci (BRA)

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