Future Olympic Hopefuls at Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia
by Cecil Bleiker
USA Judo’s Future Olympic hopefuls are getting their first taste of being a member of an official United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Team USA Delegation as they arrive in Cali, Colombia for the Inaugural Junior Pan American Games being held November 25 through December 5, 2021. Judo competition will take place November 26-28.
With eyes set on a 2028 home country Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Calif., USA, nine top USA Judo Junior athletes will join a full Team USA delegation in this first ever multi-sport international event for Junior athletes of the Pan American region. Though they will miss the typical meal of turkey with all the dressings on the USA Thanksgiving holiday, they will look to feed their hunger of striving to one-day become Olympic champions.
2021 USA Judo Junior Pan American Games Team
Nicole Cancela -52kg
Tasha Cancela -57kg
Sara Golden -63kg
Natalija Stanojevic -78kg
Jack Yonezuka -66kg
Nicholas Rodriguez -73kg
Nicolas Yonezuka Jr. -81kg
Alexander Knauf -90kg
Christian Konoval +100kg
Nicolas Yonezuka Sr.
Konoval enters the tournament fresh off of a seventh place performance on the International Judo Federation Paris (France) Grand Slam, October 17, 2021; a major event the IJF World Tour.
Of note, two brothers, coached by their Father will be representing USA Judo at this event. Jack and Nicolas Yonezuka will compete in the men’s -66kg and -81kg weight division respectively. The elder Yonezuka was a member of the 1980 USA Judo Olympic Team that missed competing at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia due to the USA boycott. The Yonezuka family patriarch Yoshisada Yonezuka who passed away in 2014 served at the Head Coach of both the 1988 and 1992 USA Judo Olympic Teams.
Colton Brown, fresh off of representing the USA in his second (Tokyo 2020ne and Rio 2016) Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan will be making his coaching debut.
To follow the competition via live stream, please visit: