By Victoria Donu | For IBSA
US judoka Benjamin Goodrich is a picture of ambition and self-discipline in the lead-up to the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, where he will take to the mat on 4 July – Independence Day.
The bronze medallist from the men’s up to 100kg at May’s IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, is on a mission to fight for a spot on the podium at Tokyo 2020 after being ninth in Rio 2016.
“I am not particularly happy with that result, but for where I was in my training with judo at the time, I can understand the outcome,” Goodrich said. “The effort was there but now that I am more fine-tuned I can hopefully expect to do much better this quad in Tokyo.”
The 26-year-old takes every competition as a new challenge and takes the best out of each experience regardless of the result:
“The most memorable tournament I have fought in is world championships last year in Portugal. I fought a great tournament I beat some athletes that had beaten me previously and I left everything I had out there on the mat. It reminds me of how far I have come and how much farther I can go.”
Goodrich will compete at the International Qualifier and will once against face Great Britain’s world No.1 Christopher Skelley. At the 2018 IBSA Judo World Championships in Odivelas, Portugal, Goodrich missed the podium after losing to Skelley.
He hopes for a medal in Tokyo but realizes the road will be challenging.
My biggest rivalry would probably have to be Christopher Skelley from Great Britain because he has a very good ground game and makes it difficult to work down there. Even on the feet he has a slight height and length advantage, so I really have my work cut out for me. I feel I have more power and I need to make sure that shows.”
Despite the difficulties, the US judoka is motivated and has taken lessons from the previous Paralympic Games at Rio 2016.
“I learned that I cannot let the situations get ahead of me on a big stage, yes there is more on the line and more people watching but that can’t get in the way of my performance on the mat with my opponent.“
As a result, Goodrich puts the emphasis on himself.
“The biggest obstacle in any endeavor is yourself. I've learned this from many years of personal experience. The amount you push yourself every day shows on competition day. You always need to come out with a solid plan and never enter the tournament just to randori.
“If I perform to the best of my ability, I have no doubt I will be on the podium in Tokyo!”
Judoka from around the world are in Fort Wayne to compete to improve their place in the world rankings towards qualification for Tokyo 2020 from 3-5 July.
The competition is being shown live at the IBSA Judo Facebook pages and IBSA’s YouTube channel.