Four Brazilian judokas climbed to the top of the podium this Friday on the first day of the Pan-American and Oceania Judo Championships. Amanda Lima (48kg) and Jessica Lima (57kg) were continental champions for the first time, while Larissa Pimenta (52kg) doubled and Eric Takabatake (66kg) made their firsts in the new category after moving up from 60kg to 66kg. Won medal. Brazil still had two more bronzes, with Rafael Silva (57kg) and Willian Lima (66kg) having lost to their countrymen, Jessica and Eric, respectively, in the semi-finals.
– Happy, this medal means I got over what I am going through this week. I kept it in my mind that I was going to be the champion and move up the international rankings – said Amanda, who broke a six-year fast in Brazil without a gold in the 48kg.
The last time Sara Menezes won was in Cuba in 2016. Now as a coach, Sara has shown the way to the student.
– It was a huge responsibility (representing this category), but Sarinha had total patience with me, we analyzed, worked together and got the gold – concluded Amanda.
The second gold of the day went to Larisa Pimenta in the women’s light weight category (52kg). An Olympic athlete at Tokyo 2020 and one of Brazilian judo’s great revelations in the previous Olympic cycle, she arrived in Lima to defend her continental title she won in 2021 in Guadalajara, Mexico. After finishing fifth at the Turkish Grand Slam, Pimenta regained his spot in the national team and went on to compete in the Pan.
He had three initial battles in Lima and Ippon won them all. He stabilized Fabiola Diaz from Venezuela, and designed Melissa Hurtado Muoz (CUB) and Christine Jiménez (PAN). In the decision, she defeated Angelica Delgado of the United States with a waza-ari by ten seconds of stabilization.
– This new beginning is important to me. I needed to be very patient. Nevertheless, much work still remains to be done. But this medal means a lot to me. It will certainly motivate me at the beginning of the cycle and it will also be very important in terms of points in the ranking for the World Championships – rated Pimenta.
Then Erik Takabateque silenced the excited host crowd by introducing Juan Miguel Postigos by Ippon to claim Brazil’s third gold of the day. Earlier, Brazil had defeated Michel Villagra (PER), Ari Berliner (USA) and teammate Willian Lima, who won the bronze medal. The two, who are also teammates at Pinheiros, showed great sportsmanship during the day and Willian, as he left his last fight, went to the stands to cheer for his ally.
– We wanted to have the last fight. But, unfortunately, there was one Australian who didn’t help much, he didn’t come and ranking wise, we met in the semi-finals. And there is nowhere to run. We train together, grow together, stay strong together and whenever we face each other, it will be an elaborate fight – said Willian.
– I hope this is the first time we can reach the podium together. The first medal is always a very important milestone, even more so in a stronger championship, because fighting Pan American is not easy. I am very happy to be on the podium – said Eric.
In the end, Jessica Lima (57kg) showed that she is having a great time in her career. After making his World Tour podium debut with a bronze at the Grand Slam in Antalya two weeks earlier, the team’s rookie won the Pan American by defeating Cuba’s Arnes Odellin García on penalties in the Grand Final. Earlier, she had defeated her compatriot Rafaela Silva in the semi-finals with the same result. Rafaela, on the other hand, disputed the bronze with Argentina’s Brisa Gómez and resolved the fight with Ippon within seconds.
Brazil last won a gold medal in this category at Pan in 2013, right alongside Rafaela Silva, the year it won the world title. In subsequent years until 2021, Raffaella, Tamaires Crud, Caitlin Nascimento and Jessica Pereira hit the beam and it was up to Jessica to break this taboo, nearly ten years after the final gold medal in 57kg.
-It still doesn’t really sink into what I did there. I’m always very focused and thinking “I’m going to fight judo”. I am approaching everything as a big challenge, because having Rafa as an opponent is challenging for the great athlete that he is. With a medal in the Grand Slam and with this title, I am now starting to dream big. First, guarantee a place for the world, fight out there with the best and wonder, that’s what I’m doing – said Jessica.
Brazil still had Ryan Conceicao (60kg), Caitlin Quadros (63kg) and Daniel Karginin (73kg) on the mat this Friday. Ryan went down in the second fight and failed to advance to medal matches in his first pan. The Olympic medalists started off well with a win, but finished 5th. Caitlin lost to Colombia’s Cindy Mera for bronze, and Danielle was spared from the last fight with Alonso Wong (PER) after suffering a rib injury during the semi-final.
On Saturday, another nine judokas from Brazil will be seeking more medals for the country in the competition. Maria Portella (70kg), Luana Carvalho (70kg), Myra Aguiar (78kg), Beatriz Souza (78kg), Guilherme Schmidt (81kg), Vinicius Panini (81kg), Marcelo Gomes (90kg), Rafael Bujacarini (100kg) and Rafael Silva (+100kg) will fight the opening bout at 11:30 (Brasilia). The final will be live on Sport TV at 7 pm.