sábado, maio 10, 2008

Valerie Gotay wins gold at judo championship

Valerie Gotay wins gold at judo championship
San Diego native Valerie Gotay punctuated her comeback by beating a former world champion, becoming the first U.S. gold medalist at the Pan American Championships.
In the judo world, an ippon is the equivalent of a game-point. The match-ending score is executed by flipping your opponent, leaving them defenseless and off their feet. It is the desired result, a symbol of domination over an adversary.
In Olympic-level competition such as the Pan American Championships -- which completed its second day at the James L. Knight Center on Friday -- ippons generally are few and far between. The talent is so even, such matches usually go the distance and are decided by points.
But in the 57-kilogram gold-medal round, Team USA's Valerie Gotay turned that logic, and Argentine Oritia Gonzalez, on their ears.
Gotay, a San Diego native, became the only American to earn a gold medal in the first two days of the Pan American Championships, continuing an unlikely return to competitive action that began in 2003 and will climax this August in Beijing.
''I know I can medal in the Olympics,'' said Gotay. ``I'm confident I can compete at any level.''
In 1992, Gotay made a similar run to Barcelona as the top-ranked judoka in her weight class.
Her Olympic dream was derailed then by a stomach illness she came down with during the games.
Following that disappointment, she competed in a part-time capacity for several years but did not return as a full-time fighter until late 2003.
''She was always one of our best players,'' said USA Judo coach Jason Morris. ``It was unfortunate for the U.S. that she wasn't full-time, all the time.''
In the gold-medal semifinals, Gotay defeated former Cuban world champion Yurileidys Lupetey in a stunning upset that drew an applause of respect from the mostly Cuban crowd.
Gotay played a tactical match, drawing several penalties on Lupetey and prevailing on points.
After one mistake, Lupetey's coach Ronaldo Veitia yelled, ''¡Vamos, intelligenté!,'' advising his star judoka to fight smarter.
''Defeating [Lupetey] is huge, no matter how you beat her,'' said Morris.
''Nothing was on the line for me,'' said Gotay, whose spot on Team USA was clinched before the tournament. ``It was nice to win on USA soil. At least I was able to bring something back for our team.''
Although Gotay was the lone American to medal on Friday, Cuba continued to dominate the competition.
Team Cuba earned three gold medals and four bronze medals, bringing its two-day total to 15. Unbreakable Cuban arm bars and leg locks drew chants of ''¡Buenas suerte!'' from the squad's fans.
University of Miami junior Felipe Novoa narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in the ultra-competitive 66-kilogram weight class, but the Chilean national did well enough to clinch a berth in the summer games.
''I'm really excited,'' Novoa said. ``Its a dream come true. I can't wait.''
Puerto Rico won its first gold medal of the games when Hiram Cruz of Jacksonville defeated Canada's Julien Paradis.
In the men's open round, Cuba's gargantuan Oscar Brayson avenged a loss to Walter Santos during Thursday's 100-plus kilogram gold-medal round, dropping the Brazilian two minutes into their match.
The Pan Am Championships continue Saturday at 9 a.m.
FONTE: MiamiHerald.com - Miami,FL,USA

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