Seven Athletes Selected To Represent USA Judo At Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games
by Alex Abrams
Angelica Delgado competes against Tsolmon Adiyasambuu of Mongolia (blue) at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Angelica Delgado and Colton Brown had to wait a little longer than expected due to the pandemic, but they are headed back to the Olympics to represent the United States in judo.
Nefeli Papadakis and Nina Cutro-Kelly will join them this month at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
USA Judo announced Monday the four members of the Olympic judo team and the three members of the Paralympic judo team. The Olympic team is a mix of returning Olympians in Delgado and Brown and a pair of athletes in Papadakis and Cutro-Kelly who will be making their Olympic debuts.
Delgado, 30, and Brown, 29, learned they had qualified for their second Olympics when the International Judo Federation released its final world rankings on June 22.
Delgado, at No. 20, was the highest-ranked American in the women’s 52-kilogram division. She heads to her second Olympics after competing at the 2016 Rio Games, where she lost her first-round match.
“I just wanted to say thank you to anyone and everyone that has helped me along this journey. It has been a whirlwind five years to say the least,” Delgado wrote on Instagram. “I was ready for these Games a year ago and my faith never wavered. I cannot wait to step onto that tatami!”
Brown punched his ticket to Tokyo by being the highest-ranked American in the men’s 90-kg. division, at No. 28.
He advanced to the second round at the Rio Olympics, but he has gained more international experience and worked on becoming stronger and more technically sound since then.
“In 2016, I made the mistake of thinking this process would be easier than the last one,” Brown wrote on Instagram. “Although the last 5 years have been full of chaos and uncertainty, it made me realize how much I actually love the journey.”
Papadakis, 22, and Cutro-Kelly, 36, are going to Tokyo after Team USA earned two additional Olympic spots through the IJF’s initial Olympic invitation, confirmation and reallocation process.
Papadakis, who competes in the women’s 78-kg. division, is headed back to Tokyo after competing there at the 2019 World Championships.
“The journey to get here has been an absolute roller coaster of emotions, and I’m glad to have finally achieved one of my life long goals,” Papadakis wrote on Instagram. “Tokyo, I’ll see you soon.”
Cutro-Kelly is set to become the oldest American to compete in judo in the sport’s 57-year Olympic history. A bronze medalist at the 2017 Pan American Championships, she will compete in the women’s over-78-kg. category in Tokyo.
Jhonny Prado and Justin Flores will coach Team USA, which has earned at least one medal in judo at the past four Olympics. Kayla Harrison won gold at the 2012 London Olympics and then five years ago in Rio.
Meanwhile, three visually impaired athletes — Ben Goodrich, 28, Robert Tanaka, 21 and Maria Liana Mutia, 22 — will represent Team USA when the Paralympic judo tournament takes place Aug. 27-29 in Tokyo.
Goodrich (men’s 100 kg.) finished ninth at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Tanaka (men’s 66 kg.) and Liana Mutia (women’s 63 kg.) will be making their Paralympic debuts. Heidi Moore and Stephen Scott Moore will be the coaches.
Alex Abrams has written about Olympic and Paralympic sports for more than 15 years, including as a reporter for major newspapers in Florida, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.