Liana Mutia Wins Second IBSA Pan Am Title, Team USA Wins Eight Medals
by Nicole Jomantas
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Less than a month after winning bronze at the International Blind Sports Association World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, Liana Mutia (Philadelphia, Pa. / El Idrissi Judo Academy) earned her second career IBSA Pan American Championship gold in Edmonton, Canada on Sunday.
The Tokyo Paralympian won gold at this event in 2020 in the 63kg category and upset the reigning Paralympic silver medalist to take the J1 57kg gold this year.
Fighting in a round robin event, Mutia went undefeated with four straight match wins in her new category.
The 24-year-old opened with a quick drop seoi nage, throwing Christina Mowatt (CAN), a 2020 Pan Am bronze medalist at 52kg, for ippon in the first three seconds. Mutia followed with a win over Rio Paralympian Paula Karina Gomez Martinez, pinning the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix silver medalist halfway through the first minute.
In the third round, Mutia took on the host nation’s Priscilla Gagne (CAN) – a 2020 Paralympic silver medalist in the 52kg division who moved up to 57kg this year and defeated Mutia at the World Championships en route to winning another silver medal. The rivals battled without a score for four minutes before Mutia threw Gagne for a waza-ari (half-point) score early in the Golden Score (overtime) period.
Mutia ended the day with a final win against Larissa Silva (BRA) who she threw and submitted to take the gold.
Seven of Mutia’s teammates also reached the podium and earned 2024 Paralympic qualification points in Edmonton, including four silver and three bronze medalists.
Beijing Paralympian Andre Watson (Aldan, Pa. / El Idrissi Judo Academy) returned to competition at the IBSA Worlds with a ninth place finish in the J1 90kg division and added a silver medal to his resume in Edmonton. Watson opened with a first-round win, throwing and pinning Reinaldo Zamora Guillot (CUB). In the second round, Watson was thrown and pinned by Arthur Cavalcante Da Silva (BRA) – the World No. 1 who went undefeated on the Grand Prix circuit this season, winning three golds before taking bronze at Worlds. In his final match, Watson threw two-time Paralympian Tony Walby (CAN) for a waza-ari and moved into newaza to choke the Canadian.
Tokyo Paralympic silver medalist Ben Goodrich (St. Paul, Minn.) also won silver in Edmonton, finishing 1-1 in the J2 90kg category. Goodrich, who moved down from 100kg to 90kg this year, fought his 2022 World teammate Ricky Ties (Rochester, Minn.) in the first match, throwing Ties for a waza-ari in the third minute.
Both Ties, who finished with bronze, and Goodrich were defeated by Marcelo Casanova (BRA) in the final matches of the round robin. Casanova threw Ties for ippon in the second minute of the match and Goodrich for a pair of waza-aris in the opening minute.
Rio Paralympic bronze medalist Christella Garcia (Sacramento, Calif.) drew Erika Zoaga (BRA) for a best-of-three showdown in the J1 +70kg division. Zoaga, the 2022 World Championships silver medalist in the weight, threw Garcia for a waza-ari and pinned her for ippon in the first match and threw the American for ippon in the second.
Robert Kim (Chicago, Ill. / Menomonee Judo Club) fought Jose Manuel Romero Martinez (CUB) twice in their J2 73kg round robin event, but was thrown for ippon in their first match and then thrown and pinned in the second of their best-of-three matchup.
In the women’s J2 +70kg division, two-time Paralympian Katie Davis (Sacramento, Calif.) and Clara Allardyce (Independence, Ky.) each won bronze. Davis opened with a first-round win over Allardyce, throwing her teammate for ippon. Both Davis and Allardyce lost their next two rounds to a pair of 2022 World medalists. Allardyce was thrown for ippon first by World silver medalist Sheyla Samarian Hernandez Estupinan (CUB) and then by World bronze medalist Rebeca Silva (BRA). Davis was thrown for ippon by Estupinan and for a pair of waza-aris by Silva.
Anthony Ferraro (Spring Lake, N.J.) competed in the J1 73kg division, but medically withdrew after a first-round loss to Eduardo Gauto Gallegos (ARG). Ferraro threw Gallegos for a waza-ari score early in the match, but Gallegos threw Ferraro for two more waza-aris.