Maria Laborde and Angelica Delgado Win Bronze at the Pan American Games
by Nicole Jomantas
(Santiago, Chile) – Paris Olympic hopefuls Maria Laborde (Kenosha, WI / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) and Angelica Delgado (Miami, FL / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) were back on the podium on Saturday, claiming bronzes on the first day of judo competition.
Laborde finished third in the 48 kg category at her first Pan American Games while Delgado added a third bronze at 52 kg to a collection that includes podium finishes from 2011 and 2015.
Teammate Tasha Cancela (Coral Springs, FL / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center) also fought for bronze, but finished the day in fifth at her first Pan Am Games.
Laborde threw Jacqueline Solis (EAI) for a waza-ari (half-point) in the second minute and held Solis scoreless for the remainder of the match.
In the quarter-finals, however, Laborde lost on penalties to Tokyo Olympian Edna Carrillo (MEX) who later upgraded her 2019 Pan Am Games bronze to a silver in Santiago.
Laborde threw 2021 Senior Pan Am Championships medalist Luz Pena (ECU) twice in the repechage, scoring a waza-ari (half-point) in the second minute and ippon in the third.
Fighting for bronze, Laborde was caught by surprise with an early waza-ari score from Erika Lasso (COL), but came back, throwing the eight-time Pan Am Open medalist for two waza-aris with just over a minute remaining in the match.
“The fight isn’t over until the time is over. You know you have to keep going, even if you’re losing, because if the time is not over, the fight is not over … I just keep going, keep going, keep going. I know I could do it and I did it,” said Laborde.
The medal is the third straight bronze at major Pan Am events for Laborde who also placed third at the 2022 and 2023 Senior Pan Am Championships.
“I always expect to get a medal. My goal was to get a gold medal because I know I can, but I’m pretty happy. I’m very happy to get a bronze medal for the U.S. I’m very proud,” Laborde said.
Delgado, a two-time Olympian, earned a bye into the quarter-finals where she threw Agustina Lahiton (ARG) for ippon in the final minute.
The semifinals would pit Delgado against World No. 10 Larissa Pimenta (BRA) in a rematch of their Pan Am Championship finals in 2019, 2021 and 2022. Delgado took the match into the final minute before being thrown by Pimenta who went on to successfully defend her 2019 Pan Am Games title and continue an undefeated streak in the region that has lasted for more than three years.
In the bronze medal final, Delgado threw three-time Pan Am Open medalist Francine Echevarria (PUR) for a waza-ari in the first 30 seconds. She needed just 90 more to throw Echevarria for a second score to take the match.
“It was a point of pride for me to secure that medal,” Delgado said. “I kind of came out guns blazing. I wanted to control the sleeve … Kind of the benefit of fighting the division for so long, since 2010, is you get to know a lot of your opponents. I knew she’s a righty. I wanted to dominate the grips, dominate the match and it worked out well.”
Delgado’s win marks her 11th podium finish at major Pan Am events, including three Pan Am Games medals and eight Pan Am Championships medals. She also said that it was an opportunity to improve upon her fifth-place finish at the Pan Am Championships in September.
“It feels really good to be back on the podium, especially after losing about a month ago at the Pan Am Championships. This was kind of a nice redemption for me,” Delgado said. “Even though I lost in the semifinal, to come out with a medal was really great.”
Although the Pan Am Games are not an Olympic qualifier for judo, the tournament did afford Delgado the chance to compete against opponents she will face on the World Tour and prepare for her next qualifying tournament in Perth, Australia in two weeks.
“This sets me up nicely I feel like because I needed to get out of my own head since my loss at Pan Am Championships [where] I ended up taking fifth, so this, for me, was kind of dusting the cobwebs off a little bit and getting back into a nice rhythm to compete in Perth,” Delgado said.
In the 57 kg division, 21-year-old Cancela was one of the field’s youngest competitors, having earned her slot in Santiago with a gold medal with at the 2021 Junior Pan Am Games.
Fighting internationally for the first time in more than a year after taking time off due to injuries, Cancela fought 2023 Cordoba Pan Am Open bronze medalist Elizabeth Segura (CHI) in the opening round where she defeated the Chilean on penalties.
In the quarter-finals, Cancela and Ana Rosa (DOM) fought a strategic match with Rosa, a 2019 Senior Pan Am Championships medalist, taking the win on penalties.
Cancela threw 2020 Junior Pan Am Champion Renata Ortiz (MEX) for ippon in the repechage to secure a position in the bronze medal match.
In the bronze medal match, Cancela and five-time Pan Am Open medalist Maria Villalba (COL) were scoreless until the final 30 seconds of the match when the Colombian threw Cancela for a waza-ari and pinned her to win the match.
Two additional members of Team USA competed on Saturday, but did not advance to the medal rounds.
David Terao (Farifax, VA) lost his opening match in the 60 kg division on penalties to 2021 Junior Pan American Champion Juan Ayala (ECU) who went on to win bronze.
A 2022 Senior Pan Am Championships bronze medalist, Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, Texas / Universal Judo) led round of 16 match against Tokyo Olympian Kristine Jimenez (PAN) by two penalties to one in Golden Score, but Jimenez caught Holguin with a throw for a waza-ari score to end the match. Jimenez went on to win bronze.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
Men’s 60 kg
1. Michel Natan Feliz Augusto (BRA)
2. Johan Sebastian Rojas (COL)
3. Arath Juarez Silva (MEX)
3. Juan Pablo Ayala (ECU)
5. Sebastian Sancho (CRC)
5. Lucas Fernandez (CHI)
7. Jairo Miguel Moreno (ESA)
7. Bryan Michael Garboa (ECU)
Also Competed: David Terao (Fairfax, VA), 0-1
Women’s 48 kg
1. Alexia Nascimento (BRA)
2. Edna Carrillo (MEX)
3. Amanda Ferreira De Lima (BRA)
3. Maria Laborde (Kenosha, WI / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
5. Mary Dee Vargas (CHI)
5. Erika Lasso (COL)
7. Keisy Perafan (ARG)
7. Luz Pena (ECU)
Men’s 66 kg
1. Willis Garcia (VEN)
2. Julien Frascadore (CAN)
3. Orlando Polanco (CUB)
3. Willian Lima (BRA)
5. Juan Postigos (PER)
5. Lenin Precadio (ECU)
7. Elmert Ramirez (DOM)
7. Juan Hernandez (COL)
Women’s 52 kg
1. Larissa Pimenta (BRA)
2. Paulina Martinez (MEX)
3. Angelica Delgado (Miami, FL / NYAC / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
3. Lilian Cordones (PAN)
5. Judith Gonzalez (CHI)
5. Francine Echevarria (PUR)
7. Agustina Lahiton (ARG)
7. Fabiola Diaz (VEN)
Women’s 57 kg
1. Rafaela Silva (BRA)
2. Brisa Gomez (ARG)
3. Kristine Jimenez (PAN)
3. Maria Villalba (COL)
5. Tasha Cancela (Coral Springs, FL / Ki-Itsu-Sai National Training Center)
5. Ana Rosa (DOM)
7. Renata Ortiz (MEX)
7. Astrid Gavidia (ECU)
Also Competed: Mariah Holguin (San Antonio, TX / Universal Judo), 0-1