Thirteen Gold Medals in the Irish Open
U.S. judo athletes cleaned up this past weekend at the Irish Open in Dublin,
Oct. 22-23, winning thirteen gold medals as well as several silver and bronze.
This was a developmental team of players aged 18 through 24, selected by the
USJF Senior Development Subcommittee as our ‘bright stars’ for the
future. The team brought home five junior gold medals and eight senior gold.
Kenny Hashimoto (Thornton, Colo./ 66kg) and Marti Malloy
(Oak Harbor, Wash./63kg) each won all of their junior matches by ippon,
and then picked up a second gold medal each in the senior divisions.
Sisters Brenna and Tara Clark (Hercules, Calif.)
also won the 48kg and 57kg junior divisions, respectively. In an All-American
final, Brenna Clark placed silver, losing to Ann Shiraishi (Elk Grove,
Calif./48kg). Meanwhile Tara also medaled in the senior division, winning
Top-ranked U.S. junior Daniel McCormick (Arlington, Texas/+100kg)
was the fifth U.S. junior gold medalist at the event as well as claiming a silver
in the Senior Open division.
Garry St. Leger (Brooklyn, N.Y.) defeated Mike Pedro
(Lynn, Mass.) at 90kg to win gold while twin brother Harry
St. Leger (Brooklyn, N.Y./81) lost his final match to Olympian Rick
Hawn (Wakefield, Mass.) Rick is originally from the Northwest Yudanshakai,
which generously supported his travel to Europe, as he was over the age limit
for the USJF developmental team.
Radu Brestyan (Medway, Mass./73kg) came back from a single
koka (smallest points) deficit with 24 seconds remaining to pin U.S. Open bronze
medalist Michael Eldred (Fruitland, Idaho) for yuko (quarter-point)
and the gold medal.
Nina Cutro-Kelly (Albany, N.Y.) swept both the 78kg and open
divisions while 24-year-old Natalie Lafon (National City, Calif./52kg)
after an eight-year retirement added a bronze medal at the Irish Open to the
silver she won at the Benito Juarez Tournament earlier this year.
Coach Jim Pedro, Sr. commended the young team on their work ethic, talent and
their outstanding performance in the tournament. “They attended practice
before the tournament and after the tournament and fought their hearts out during
the tournament. They came together as a team, supported one another and behaved
in a manner that reflected well on their country and the USJF. The funds from
the USJF could not have been invested in a better group of people. I highly
recommend funding this team to a higher level tournament next year, as well
as sending a new young team to the Irish Open next year. This entire program
is what the USJF is all about – making good athletes and good people.”
Dr. Wooley, the team manager, concurred, “It was an honor to be part
of this team, to work with these amazingly talented young people, and to be
part of a staff with Coach Pedro and Coach Clark. I hope to be privileged to
do so again in the future.”
Note: The USJF would like to thank Judo Unlimited for their generous donation
of team uniforms and Vaughn Imada for his donation of the team shirts.