NewsChristella GarciaMaria Liana MutiaKatie DavisRon Hawthorne

Paralympic Hopefuls to Fight for Final Qualification Spots in Tbilisi This Weekend

by Nicole Jomantas

Paralympians Ron Hawthrone, Katie Davis, Christella Garcia and Liana Mutia will compete in the final qualifier for the 2024 Games this weekend in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo by Heidi Moore)

(Colorado Springs, CO) – After more than 18 months of qualifying tournaments, the final IBSA Grand Prix of the Paralympic selection period will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia this weekend.

2024 IBSA Tbilisi Grand Prix Live Stream

Four members of Team USA will compete in the seventh and final IBSA Grand Prix before the automatic qualifiers are named.

Fifty-four men and 48 women will be awarded slots at the Games off the Paralympic Ranking List by name as follows:

Men’s Categories
J1 60 kg: 7
J1 73 kg: 7
J1 90 kg: 6
J1 +90 kg: 6
J2 60 kg: 7
J2 73 kg: 7
J2 90 kg: 7
J2 +90 kg: 7

Women’s Categories
J1 48 kg: 6
J1 57 kg: 6
J1 70 kg: 6
J1 +70 kg: 6
J2 48 kg: 6
J2 57 kg: 6
J2 70 kg: 6
J2 +70 kg: 6

Going into the weekend, both 2016 Paralympic bronze medalist Christella Garcia (Sacramento, CA / Team Sacramento Judo / J1 +70 kg) and Tokyo Paralympian Liana Mutia (Philadelphia, PA / El Idrissi Judo / J1 57 kg) are ranked No. 3 in their respective categories.

A 2023 IBSA World Games bronze medalist, Garcia has medaled at all six of the previous Grand Prix qualifying events. The field is stacked in her event, though, with all of the top seven athletes fighting in Tbilisi for both qualification opportunities as well as potential seeding in Paris. While Garcia holds the No. 3 position in the rankings currently, a gold medal finish could allow her to move up in seeding for the Games.

Mutia, a two-time IBSA World Championships medalist, was injured and did not compete at the first two Grand Prix tournaments of the year, but holds podium finishes at three of the first four qualifiers. Mutia’s category includes the top 12 athletes on the Paralympic Ranking List with 2023 World Games Champion Yujie Shi (CHN) and 2022 World Champion Dondu Yesilyurt (TUR) holding the top two seeds.

Katie Davis (Sacramento, CA / Team Sacramento Judo / J2 +70 kg) competed at both the London and Tokyo Games, but currently sits in eighth place in the filtered rankings and needs at least a bronze medal finish to have potential to earn an automatic qualification slot. Her event includes all of the top 10 athletes in the rankings except 2023 World Games bronze medalist Meg Emmerich (BRA) as Brazil also holds the No. 1 ranking by Rebeca Silva who won gold at the 2023 World Games.

London Paralympian Ron Hawthorne (Kansas City, KS / Welcome Mat Judo) holds the No. 18 position on the filtered rankings for the J2 60 kg division. While Hawthorne can’t pick up enough points to earn an automatic qualification for Paris, 30 slots will be awarded by IBSA and the IPC as Bipartite Commission Invitations in June and a solid finish in Tbilisi could put Hawthorne in contention for a second Games.

Competition schedule is as follows:

Saturday, May 18
Women’s J1 48kg, J2 48 kg, J2 57 kg
Men’s J1 60 kg, J2 60 kg, J1 73 kg, J2 73 kg

Sunday, May 19
Women’s J1 57 kg, J1 70 kg, J2 70 kg, J1 +70 kg, J2 +70 kg
Men’s J1 90 kg, J2 90 kg, J1 +90 kg, J2 +90 kg

Prelims begin daily at 4 a.m. EDT. Finals will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. EDT and Sunday at 9 a.m. EDT.