The best judoka from the Americas will compete at the 2020 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo American Championships in Montreal, Canada, on Sunday (12 January) hoping to begin the Paralympic year on the podium.
As well as the medals on offer, the competition is also the first of a trio events this year which count towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Athletes have the chance to gain points which will determine their place in the world rankings.
Montreal 2020 will be shown live on IBSA’s YouTube channel
and IBSA Judo’s Facebook page.
Returning to the mat for hosts Canada will be defending champion Priscilla Gagne in the women’s up to 52kg. The judoka is on a high from an impressive 2019 which saw her claim silver at the International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, USA, Lima 2019 Parapan American Games and the last IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Elsewhere in the women’s, fans can expect the rivalry between Mexican Paralympic title-holder Lenia Ruvalcaba and Brazil’s world champion Alana Martins Maldonado to heat-up in the women’s up to 70kg.
The pair’s record from 2019 shows a triple win for the Mexican, but Maldonado reached her own victory at the Grand Prix in Tashkent.
A Brazilian face-off could play out in the women’s over 70kg as 2018 champion Rebeca Silva and Lima 2019 victor Meg Emmerich compete.
Emmerich is also hoping for a successful return to competition after injury.
"I had to temporarily stop judo training because of a wrist injury so it wouldn't get worse, but during the recovery I did physiotherapy and aerobic training. I hope that in this training phase I can reach the previously acquired potential to have a good competition," Emmerich said.
Mexico’s Eduardo Avila Sanchez, the men’s up to 81kg Paralympic champion, reclaimed the top of the podium in 2019 after being out with a serious back injury.
Sanchez will try to continue his winning streak, which included gold in Fort Wayne on his competitive return, and a Parapan American Games win.
Brazil’s Luan Pimental will attempt to regain his title in the men’s up to 73kg. The 22-year-old also triumphed in Lima as he looks towards his Paralympic debut.
"I hope to fight well, I come from good competitions and I want to keep a clear mind to compete and express the evolution that is being sought in training," Pimental said.
The 2019 IBSA Judo American Championships are the last regional competition ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Grand Prix in Nottingham, Great Britain, and Baku, Azerbaijan, will follow on 11-12 April and 11-12 May, respectively. All events count towards qualification for the upcoming Paralympic Games.
Nearly 60 judoka from 10 countries will compete in Montreal. The European Championships took place in Genova, Italy, alongside the Asia and Oceania Championships in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, in 2019.