NewsBenjamin Goodrich

From PE Class To Paralympic Medalist, Ben Goodrich Claims Judo Silver Medal

by Bob Reinert

When is a loss really a win? When the defeat comes in a gold-medal match at the Paralympic Games, of course.

That’s exactly what happened for Ben Goodrich of the U.S., who took home a silver medal Sunday despite dropping the finale of the men’s 100-kilogram judo competition to Christopher Skelley of Great Britain by waza-ari in four minutes at Nippon Budokan.

“I'm happy with the result compared to my first entrance to the Paralympics in 2016. Second is a whole lot of improvement from ninth,” said Goodrich, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota. “Hopefully, if I'm around again in Paris (2024), we can improve on that and get some gold coming our way.

“I came here to win a gold, but I won a silver, so I'm totally happy with the silver medal.”

The 28-year-old Goodrich said the silver was bittersweet as it came against a competitor he knows quite well. Skelley, who was third at the 2018 world championships, was the European champion in 2017.

Goodrich, on the other hand, didn’t begin judo until 2011, when he was introduced to the sport in a physical education elective course at the University of Minnesota. The former high school wrestler was a natural and was starting to clim the ranks two years later.

“I've beaten Skelley before,” said Goodrich, who now works for the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a sales tax technician while training full time. “He’s a tough match. He's a good guy. We brawl a lot.

“It was a hard match, but it was the shortest one today. It was a hard fight — four minutes. He's got a great technique, but I went out there and did what I could.”

Skelley, also 28 years old, was equally complimentary of Goodrich.

“I’m pretty relieved because it was an awful fight,” Skelley said. “It was just a dogged, horrible fight. Ben Goodrich is a fantastic athlete, and he pushed me all the way.”

Goodrich had earned his spot in the gold-medal match with a waza-ari win over Anatolii Shevchenko of the Russian Paralympic Committee in the quarterfinals and a victory by ippon against Antonio Tenorio da Silva of Brazil in the semifinals.

“I know hundreds and thousands of people here and back in the U.S. are super happy for me,” said Goodrich, “and in Sweden, of course.”
That’s because Goodrich is engaged to fellow judoka Nicolina Pernheim of Sweden.

“This is definitely a shared medal,” Goodrich said. “I would have loved to see Nicolina get on the podium, as well, but I'm very happy I'm able to bring a medal home."

“I was in Sweden for most of the year this year, training with them at their club in Gothenburg.”

Also on Sunday, Katie Davis of Sacramento, California, of the U.S. dropped a pair of matches by ippon in the women’s +70 kg. competition. She lost to eventual bronze medalist Carolina Costa of Italy in the quarterfinals and then to Mongolia’s Altantsetseg Nyamaa in the repechage.

American Maria Liana Mutia of Raleigh, North Carolina, lost Saturday by ippon to Hiroko Kudo of Japan in the women’s 63 kg. elimination round of 16. On Friday, Denver native Robert Tanaka dropped his match against Viktor Rudenko of the Russian Paralympic Committee by ippon in the men’s 66 kg. elimination round of 16.

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit to view the medal table and results.

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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