|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.
|Pan Am Games 2003
GOMEZ, Angelo (USA)
ARENCIBIA, Yordanis (CUB)
CAMILO, Luiz (BRA)
CANTO, Flavio (BRA)
OLSON, Brian (USA)
SABNIMO, Mario (BRA)
HERNANDEZ, Daniel (BRA)
CARRION, Danieska (CUB)
MELO, Neyla (COL)
LUPETEY, Yurisleidis (CUB)
GONZALEZ, Driulis (CUB)
ZULETA, Regla (CUB)
SILVA, Edinanci (BRA)
BELTRAN, Daima (CUB)