It has been a very long last few weeks but I have finally finished my block of competitions here in the Americas. I started off with a 7th place in both the Miami World Cup and US Open. I lost to a Brazilian in the Venezuela World Cup and the weekend just gone I fought in the El Salvador World Cup.
It has been a difficult last few weeks having to make weight 3 weekends in a row. Not to mention the highs and lows that comes with intense competition. This weekend I was seeded number 1 and really looking forward to coming away with my first World cup medal outside of Oceania - but it wasn't to be.
I had a bye in the first round before fighting an American that beat me in the first round of the US Open. I was really looking forward to this fight because in our first encounter he beat me rather easily with a really nice arm bar turnover into a hold down. In this particular fight the attacks went backwards and forwards until I caught him on the ground with an Ude gatame (straight arm bar) to finish the fight by Ippon. I was really happy not only to avenge my loss but also make it through to the quarter finals.
In the quarters I fought Alves from Brazil. He is a tall and skinny lefty that recently placed 2nd at the Rio Grand Slam. I know his style of Judo but could not combat his long arms and strong grips. I ended up getting penalized 3 times for having my head down (again) and then with about 1 minute to go I went for a drop Kata Guruma and he pushed me on my back for a Waza-ari, therefore winning the fight.
I was very disappointed with how I fought in this match. I know that Alves is a top ranked fighter and I know I can beat him but I kept letting him control my sleeve and look very dominant which meant I would receive penalties for not attacking. At this level you are better off giving away a penalty than trying to fight off a particular grip and getting thrown for Ippon.
At this level you cannot let your opponent pull your head down and control your sleeve- if this happens you have 2 options:
1- get penalised
2- get thrown for Ippon.
In the end he ended up winning the Gold medal.
My last fight of the day was in the repercharge against a fighter from Ecuador. Once again I knew what type of fighter he was. I got started with the grips and was penalised within the first 12 seconds as apparently the referee thought I was being defensive. In the next exchanged I attacked with a Sumi Gaeshi just as my opponent grabbed my leg and yelled a big Kiai. All three referees in the centre gave it no score but the referee's commission (to my surprise) awarded an Ippon to my opponent.
He told me afterwards that he was very lucky to get the Ippon score.
I was upset with the referee's decision but after looking at the replay I can see how the referee's commission may have interpreted it.
That is just Judo; sometimes you need a bit of luck and the referees on your side. In Miami I strangled a guy unconscious while he was on top of me holding me down - in this particular occasion luck went with me and this time it went against me.
As a Judoka there is just nothing worse than walking on the mat, getting thrown for Ippon, and walking off the mat having felt like you haven't given it your all.
But we live and we learn.
I finished in 7th place giving me a valuable 16 points towards the World Ranking List.
Now I begin my long 30 hour journey home before I head off to the World Championships in Paris. I will have a few days off before beginning some intense training leading into the world championships.
Once again I would like to thank you all for your support, I truly feel that I am not completing this journey alone. I really appreciate all the comments and feedback you send to me and would like to let you know that I appreciate it. If I have yet to reply to your email, please be patient and I will reply ASAP.
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