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United States Judo Federation Funds Team to Irish Open

A team of eleven athletes will represent the United States Judo Federation
at the Irish Open Judo Championships in Dublin, Ireland October 22-23. Through
a rigorous selection process, a team of 22 ‘bright stars’ were
identified by a panel of international coaches as showing great potential
based on their outstanding performance at a relatively young age. Despite
being below the peak years for judo competition (mid- to late-twenties) all
of these competitors had earned medals in senior national competition or placed
in the top five in international competition. According to USJF Senior Development
Chair, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, “Every one of our final pool was an outstanding
athlete. It was heartbreaking to have to cut half of them due to limited funding.
Every one of these athletes represents truly the ‘best of the best’
of our next generation of athletes. They are not only gifted athletes but
fine people. We expect great things from them, starting with a large share
of the gold medals from the Irish Open.”
Seven male and four female athletes made the final cut, ranging in age from
18 years to 24. The following athletes have been selected:
Kenneth Hashimoto, Northglenn Judo Club, Denver, Colorado,
bronze medalist in U.S. Senior Nationals, 2005 USJF junior national champion
and 2004 junior world team member. Currently a college sophomore, Kenneth
competes in the 66 kilogram (145 lb) division.
Harry St. Leger, Starrett Judo, New York City, bronze medalist
in the U.S. senior national championships and 2004 junior world team member,
will compete in the 81 kg (178 lb) category.
Garry St. Leger, Starrett Judo, New York City, bronze medalist
in the U.S. senior national championships will represent the USJF in the 90
kg (198 lb) class.
Identical twins, Harry and Garry are both college students.
Two other college students on the team, are both originally from Oak Harbor,
WA, both currently students at San Jose State University, both 2005 junior
national champions and both placed third in the 2005 senior nationals. They
are hardly, however, identical twins. Travis Stevens will
compete in the 81 kg men’s category and also in the junior division.
Marti Malloy will compete in Ireland in the 57 kg (125 lb)
women’s division, as well as in the junior division at the same weight.
Young as she is, Marti is not a newcomer to the international scene, having
presented in the United States in the 2002 junior world championships at the
tender age of 16.
Natalie Lafon of Judo America, an elementary school teacher
from San Diego will be one of the older competitors, at age 24. Hers is an
amazing comeback story. After a ten-year break from judo, when she completed
college and competed in soccer, Ms. Lafon decided to return to competition
and placed second in the senior national championships, followed up by a silver
medal in international competition in Mexico City. She competes in the 52
kg (114 lb) class.
Radu Brestyan, Pedro’s Judo Club, is another recent
college graduate. He placed third in the senior nationals, fifth in the U.S.
Open. He will compete in the 73 kg (161 lb) category.
Daniel McCormick trains at Bedford Kodokan Judo Club. From
Arlington, TX, he was a member of the 2004 junior world team and a silver
medalist in the senior national championships. A student at Tarrant County
College, he is the 2005 Collegiate National Champion. As heavyweights tend
to peak later in judo competition, Mr. McCormick’s performance in judo
competition is particularly impressive. He will compete in the 100+ kg (over
220 lb) categories in both junior and senior events.
Nina Cutro-Kelly of Judo America, Albany, New York, will
compete in the 78 kg (172 lb) women’s division. A member of the 2002
junior world team and silver medalist in the 2005 senior nationals, Ms. Cutro-Kelly
is also an outstanding student. She will be journeying from France to meet
up with the USJF team. A college student majoring in political science, Ms.
Cutro-Kelly is aiming for both the 2008 Olympic team and law school.
Ann Shiraishi, from East Bay Judo Institute in San Francisco,
a college freshman, will be competing in the lightest category, 48 kg (106
lbs). Ms. Shiraishi was the silver medalist in this year’s senior national
Michael Eldred of Western Idaho Judo, hales from Fruitland,
ID, certainly not one of the hotbeds of judo in the world. Yet, Mr. Eldred
was the number one junior in the 73 kg category and represented the U.S. in
the junior world championships. He also placed third in the U.S. Open, the
premier international event in the United States.
Three other American competitors will compete in the Irish Open. Rick
originally from Oregon and a 2004 Olympian will compete in the
81 kg class, with funding provide by the Northwest Yudanshakai (black belt
association). Said Northwest representative Bert Mackey, “Having been
an Olympian, Rick was not exactly in the developmental class funded by the
USJF for this event. Let’s face it, if you place ninth in the world,
you are pretty developed. Still, we felt he was deserving of funding and we
are happy that we can provide him this support.” Brenna Clark at 15
years old has already represented the U.S. both the Senior and Junior Pan-American
championships. She has already won 10 international medals. She is the current
High School Champion and will compete in the 48 kg class. Her sister, Tara
Clark, a former junior Pan-American team member and National Champion, will
compete in the 52 kg category. Both are high school students.
The USJF has assembled a world-class coaching staff to mentor this team of
developing athletes. Head Coach James Pedro, Sr. of Salem, NH coached the
1993 world team, trained four athletes who competed in the 2004 Olympics and
was the USJF Coach of the Year. Team Manager and Team Doctor, Dr. James Wooley
was a 1972 and 1976 Olympian, manager for the 1983 Panamerican Games, 1984
Olympic Games and Pacific Rims. He is in private practice in Irvine, CA. Lanny
Clark will be accompanying the team as Junior Coach. He has been a coach at
numerous international events, including the Panamerican Championships and
Korea Cup. He is the owner of Eagle Financial Services in Pinole, CA and publisher
of California Judo magazine.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. AnnMaria De Mars , Chair, Senior Development
United State Judo Federation
(310) 717-9089