Friday, March 12, 2010

Blind Judo athlete heads for World Champs

Blind Judo Athlete Heads For World Championships
by Kevin Murphywrite the author

Adnan Gutic, 25, of Affton, is competing in the IBSA Judo World Championships for blind athletes later this month in Antalya, Turkey.

Gutic was nine years old when, in 1994, he came to the U.S. with his family from Bosnia. The family has lived on Antonette Hills Drive in Affton since 1996. Totally blind in the right eye with minimal vision in the left, Gutic attended elementary and high school at the Missouri School For The Blind.

It was there that he became interested in sports, particularly wrestling. He would go on to wrestle at Lindenwood College, where he is currently in his final semester as a student teacher in physical education

"I wrestled at Lindenwood for three years, and I was doing both wrestling and Judo in my junior year. It got to be too much, I was doing too many things. I was a little better at Judo, so I quit wrestling," Gutic said.

Judo is a martial art that consists of throws, pins, chokes, and arm bars. Matches are five minutes long and can be won with a varying score dependent upon throw quality, pinning the opponent for 25 seconds, or the opponent submitting from a choke or arm bar.

Judo is a difficult sport for fully sighted athletes but Gutic makes it look easy. Gutic's vision is somewhere between 20/800 and 20/1000. When asked what he sees on the mat, he can tell that there is an opponent across from him but he can't tell when he moves. He relies solely on feel.

Gutic's wrestling background has helped him win many matches with his ground fighting. Last year he took first in his weight division in the Visually Impaired U.S. Open, first in the USA Judo Nationals, and third at the Pan American Championships.

Gutic said he is honored to be a part of the U.S. World Team this year and is using this tournament as a stepping stone toward the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

"Right now I'm just trying to stay positive," Gutic said. "I've always had good conditioning and my technique is getting better. Most importantly, I'm trying to remember to have fun."

Derick Wellman is coach and owner of White Dragon Judo Club in Overland, where Gutic trains.

"We're real proud of Adnan. He needs to remain confident and take it one match at a time," Wellman said.

Gutic leaves March 23 for Turkey.

Above: Yoshida JPN getting thrown by Honoroto BRA at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

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