Two gold medals for Mexico concluded the judo competitions at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games on Sunday (25 August), as the first goalball also competitions got underway in Peru.
Headlining proceedings in the judo was a clash between Mexican Paralympic champion Lenia Ruvalcaba and Brazilian world champion Alana Martins in the women’s up to 70kg.
Competing in a round robin format, the two favourites faced-off with Ruvalcaba emerging the victor. Martins made a series of mistakes which led to her being awarded three shido and handing her rival the victory.
Ruvalcaba went on to win her remaining fights to finish with four victories overall.
Martins’ only loss came to the Mexican, landing her silver. The USA’s Paralympic bronze medallist Christella Garcia was third alongside Argentina’s Nadia Boggiano.
Mexico’s second title came from another Paralympic champion – Edoardo Avila Sanchez.
Winning his second major international gold after a serious back injury, Sanchez topped the table in the men’s up to 81kg. The triumph adds to his victory from the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, USA, in July, when he returned to the mat after a year out.
Cuba’s Rodriguez Gerardo claimed silver with Brazil’s Harlley Pereira taking bronze.
Three Brazilians rounded-off their competition to place Brazil at the top of the judo medals table with four golds overall.
Brazil’s Luan Pimental emerged on top in the men’s up to 73kg. Colombia’s Juan Castellanos was second followed by Mexico’s Raul Ortiz and Argentina’s Rodolfo Ramirez.
Meg Rodrigues and Lucia Araujo won the women’s over 70kg and up to 57kg, respectively.
The next major international competition for Americas judoka in 2019 will be the IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from 23-24 September.
The first goalball matches of Lima 2019 took place on Sunday at the Miguel Grau Coliseum with high stakes.
The gold medallist from both the men’s and women’s will secure a ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, unless they have already qualified.
With this in mind the US men delivered one of the performances of the day with a 10-5 win over Canada.
Taking an early 4-0 lead, the USA looked to have the edge over their North American rivals. But Canada came back early in the second half to level the scores at 5-5.
Wary of a potential opening game loss, the US men found their form and netted a further five balls without reply from Canada to end with a 10-5 win. Josh Welborn was their top scorer with six goals.
“It was definitely a game of ups and downs,” Welborn said, speaking to IBSA member the United States Association of Blind Athletes. “It was super-exciting to score the first four and get that early lead. I feel like that’s really what we needed as a team. Had a little bit of a slow start to the second half – I know that sometimes it just happens like that. You get that three-minute break and it seems like a pretty short break to the spectators, but it feels like an eternity when you’re out there on the court and it was just a little but unfortunate we dropped the ball a little bit. But super happy to be able to get it back […]
“We really had to return to our base strategy, which is stay calm and play goalball the way we need to play goalball and as soon as we started doing that the goals just kept coming.”
Other teams competing in Lima that have not already qualified for Tokyo include the Mexican men and women, who both secured victories on Sunday.
The women took on Costa Rica, ending the game early once they have reached a 10 goal lead. The men achieved the same feat against Guatemala.
Hosts Peru suffered an opening 11-1 loss to Venezuela.
The Brazilian men and women and the US women are competing at the Parapans with a lighter weight on their shoulders having already won their seats on the plane to Japan in 2020.
Defending champions and world title-holders Brazil notched a 9-2 win over Argentina in the men’s but the Argentinians are improving with every tournament.
The Brazilian women triumphed 9-3 over Canada, who are seeking a Tokyo 2020 spot, with five goals coming from Ana Carolina Custodio. Her signature throwing style of backwards between the legs is still proving very difficult to defend.
The US women got their tournament off to a good start with a 10-0 win over Peru.
Goalball will continue until 31 August when the medallists will be decided.
Peru headlined the day at the Villa Maria del Triunfo Sports Centre.
Their 1-0 over Costa Rica was their first victory of the competition. It was Jhonatan Brayan Bartolo Climaco who was the hero when he finally got a shot past Javier Castro in the 36th minute.
Title-holders Brazil are still waiting for a win after their grudge match against World Championships silver medallists Argentina ended 0-0.
Both teams had equal chances on goal but neither could find the edge. Ricardinho was on target for Brazil twice but could not find his way past Dario Lencina. Argentina meanwhile had shots denied from Marcelo Panizza and Maxi Espinillo.
Another 0-0 draw came between Mexico and Colombia, but it was the Mexicans who were more proactive.
They had three shots on goal from Felipe Gustavo Rana Magana and Rubicel De La Cruz Torres but could not find a way through.
Blind football runs all week in Lima, with the exception of a day off on 27 August. The final will be contested on 30 August.
Full results from Lima can be found at the official website, as well as live coverage of the sports.