by Heidi Moore

The 2003 International Blind Sports Association World Championships were held in Quebec, Canada August 1-12, 2003. This was a multi-sport world championship and games with athletes representing 59 nations competed in track and field events, swimming, goalball, tandem cycling, power lifting, and judo.

For judo, this event served as the only qualifying event for the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. The US send a strong delegation. Each country was allowed 2 participants in each weight category and the top 12 finishers for men and the top 6 for women in each weight qualified a slot in that category for their country in Athens. If more than one athlete from the same country made the top 12 (or 6), only one slot was awarded and a fight-off was held amongst the remaining countries to determine the remaining spots.

Every member of the US Team qualified!

At 66kg, Emmanuel Brannon of Florida, fighting in his first international tournament, threw a beautiful ippon in the first round. He then lost to 2 seasoned players in the second round and the repecharge. He finished 9th, qualifying for Athens.

At 73kg, Scott Moore of Englewood, CO, 1998 World and 2000 Paralympic champion and 2002 World bronze medalist, had a rough day, going 2-2 and finishing ninth. After soundly beating his opponents in the first and second rounds, Scott lost a close match to Simon Jackson of Great Britain, one of the most successful VI judoka in history. Scott is 0-3 against Jackson, but each time they fight, Scott is getting closer. Scott then lost to Wang of China, securing him a spot in Athens.

At 81kg, Marlon Lopez of San Jose, CA had an excellent day, going 3-2 and finishing 5th. Marlon has moved up from 66kg since the 2000 Paralympics, where he finished 3rd, and is making a name for himself at this heavier weight. His explosive technique serves him well and makes him a likely challenger for a medal in Athens.

At 90kg, the US had 2 entrants. Scott Jones of Little Rock, AR, was competing in his first international tournament. Scott had an elbow injury that caused him a great deal of pain in the days coming up on the championships, but he managed to fight through it, going 1-2 and finishing 9th. Brett Lewis of Spokane, WA, 2000 Paralympic silver medalist, went 2-2 and finished 7th. Brett and Scott will fight off for the berth in Athens next spring.

At 100kg, Kevin Szott of Clifton, NJ, regained his World title, defeating Sebastian Le Meaux of France in the finals. Kevin took a silver medal last year at the World Championships. Kevin also won gold medals in the 2000 Paralympics and 1998 World Championships at +100kg. He has dropped a weight and is making a name for himself a 100kg.

On the women’s side, Lori Pierce of Arvada, CO captured a bronze medal at 70kg, defeating Shagarova of Russia in her round-robin pool. Lori won a gold medal at the 2002 World Championships in Rome and is a strong contender to medal in Athens. Women’s judo will be represented for the first time in Paralympic competition next year.

The US qualified athletes in every weight category they entered. Athletes will fight off for these spots next spring. Athletes wishing to challenge any qualifiers must meet US Paralympic qualifying standards. Contact US Paralympics for more information (www.usparalympics.com).

The US Team to Athens, barring other challengers, will be:
Men
66kg Emmanuel Brannon
73kg Scott Moore
81kg Marlon Lopez
90kg Brett Lewis or Scott Jones
100kg Kevin Szott

Women
70kg Lori Pierce

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Editor’s Note: For more information on this, and other international tournaments for the visually impaired, please see International Judo Tournaments for the Visually Impaired.