Despite an opening round exit the Tokyo 2020ne Olympic Games represent a dream fulfilled for USA Judo’s Nina Cutro-Kelly
by Cecil Bleiker
TOKYO, Japan – At the seasoned age of 36 years after having earned the recognition as the oldest USA female judoka to ever make a U.S. Olympic Team; it took longer than Nina Cutro-Kelly (Albany, N.Y./Selma, Texas/Universal Judo/ Universite de Rennes - Rennes, France) wanted to get to the Olympic Games, but competing on the Olympic tatami at the Nippon Budokan in the Tokyo 2020ne Olympic Judo competition represents a dream fulfilled. Despite falling in the first round to Slovenia’s Anamari Velensek by the score of 11-0, Kelly is looking to her future.
“I knew that she was strong on the mat, I knew that that was going to be a dangerous area,” said Kelly. “To be honest I’m looking forward to getting home and coaching some of my younger athletes and hopefully the next heavyweight that fights here does better.”
When asked about what being an Olympian means to her, Kelly said, “I hope this puts me into the position where I can help other people in the future to prepare better. If I knew what I know now ten years ago, I think my career could have been very different. I hope to pass on that knowledge to some of my teammates and students.”
This closes out the Tokyo 2020ne Olympic Games for USA Judo its four Olympians and two coaches Jhonny Prado (Coral Springs, Fla./ Ki-itsu-sai National Training Site) and Justin Flores (Carlsbad, Calif./Studio 540). Besides, Kelly, also focusing on a future outside of competition is Colton Brown (Piscataway, N.J./Bridgewater, N.J./New York Athletic Club/San Jose State University/-90kg) whose second Olympic Games (2016 and 2020) marked a sort of homecoming and coming full circle. Having started college and living in Tokyo for four months right out of high school allowing him to immerse himself in Judo sport and culture, Brown could not have scripted a better place for his final match other than the famed Nippon Budokan. For two-time Olympian (2016 and 2020), Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla./Coconut Creek, Fla./Ki-itsu-sai National Training Site/New York Athletic Club/Florida International University/-52kg) and brand new 22 year old Olympian Nefeli Papadakis (Gurnee, Ill./Wolf Judo Club/ College of Lake County/DeVry University) Tokyo 2020ne represents another big and important Olympic step in their journeys. Both have their sights squarely set on Paris, France and the 2024 Olympic Games which are just a short three years away with point qualifying events anticipated to begin next year. Coaches Prado and Flores factor big into both athlete’s plans to improve their standing for better showings at the next Olympic tournament.
-52kg; Angelica Delgado (Miami, Fla./Coconut Creek, Fla./Ki-itsu-sai National Training Site/New York Athletic Club/Florida International University) – Round of 16
-78kg; Nefeli Papadakis (Gurnee, Ill./Wolf Judo Club/College of Lake County/DeVry University) – Round of 32
+78kg; Nina Cutro-Kelly (Albany, N.Y./Selma, Texas/Universal Judo/ Universite de Pennes - Pennes, France) – Round of 32
-90kg; Colton Brown (Piscataway, N.J./Bridgewater, N.J./New York Athletic Club/San Jose State University) – Round of 16
Jhonny Prado (Coral Springs, Fla./ Ki-itsu-sai National Training Site)
Justin Flores (Carlsbad, Calif./Studio 540)
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic judo tournament is taking place July 24-31, 2021 with Mixed Team competition on the final day, an event in which the USA did not qualify. The host venue is the historic Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, also the host venue of the first ever Olympic Judo competition in Tokyo 1964.
For more information, please contact Cecil Bleiker, Team USA Press Officer - Judo at +1-719-330-2062.