U.S. Open Preliminary Matches
Tournament Day (or how I almost missed seeing Ronda fight after flying 4,000 miles to watch her)
My former teammate, Karen Mackey, had a hotel room, so I crashed with her and we talked about judo stuff and the old days - kind of like a sleepover party for really old people. Andi (Andrea) Bongert was competing the next day and I told them,
“When you get up at 6 a.m. for the weigh-ins, don’t feel the need to wake me up.”
Well, I didn’t realize that they were not coming back after the weigh-ins so I wake up and it is 10:45 !!! The tournament was supposed to start at 9! I cannot believe that I have come all of the way out here and might miss Ronda’s preliminary matches! I have to be at the airport by 8:30 so it is very possible I could miss the finals, too and not see her fight at all.
&$^%&$^&*((%&^!@$%$^& (or something like that).
I shower and dress in four minutes flat, run across the street to the host hotel and see Tammy Liddie in a van getting ready to leave. I ask if I can ride with them as I jump into the van. With a slightly surprised look, she says, “Sure” while the other people look suspiciously at this stranger who just leaped into their car.
Arriving at the tournament, Ronda is match #33 and they are on match 25. She had a bye the first round, so we watch the first round in her division. Along with a few Americans we know, there are players from Canada, Great Britain, Japan and Israel. The Israeli wins her fight so she will be Ronda’s first match.
Match #1: Ronda’s match with the Israeli player is over pretty quickly. They get a grip, and Ronda hits a sumi gaeshi for ippon. (If you don’t know what sumi is – it is a sacrifice throw, where you lay down on your back, shove the other person’s arm down, use one leg to lift and one arm to pull them in a full circle over you.) The whole match is much less than a minute.
We go back to watching the rest of the division. Two British players, one Japanese, one Canadian and one American are left. We notice that one is left-handed, one does a lot of counters. Katie Sells, the number two American, loses to Gemma (from watching her, she is the better of the two British players). Katie makes the fatal mistake you should never make with a female left-handed player who favors hip throws, she gets a high right grip on her, and I can see it coming the second Katie does that. Gemma grabs her waist, pops in with a hip throw and throws Katie for ippon.
Match #2: Ronda has the other British player. Her last name is Fletcher. The match lasts a few seconds. They bow, Ronda gets a grip on the lapel and does a running leg pick for ippon.
I am so proud. I remember doing that with her when she was a little kid at Venice Dojo, telling her,
“No matter who it is, almost no one is going to be able to run backward faster than you can run forwards. Just run it and they will go down eventually,”
and now here she is doing it in the U.S. Open to get into the finals. She is in the finals and has done judo for a total of about 42 seconds. Jim tells her to go back to the hotel and rest before the finals, but both of us want to see more matches, so we go around the corner where he can't see us to watch more of the the tournament.
Time to get ready for judo, I will write about the rest of the day after I get back from practice.
For those of you who read this blog and are looking for information on Native Americans or disabilities and have found it all to be about judo lately, sorry.
I do have a blog on my work website that has been focused on other topics.