Team USA heads for What May Be Biggest World Championships Ever Competition: Aug. 23 – 28

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August 17, 2011 (from USA-Judo) – Team USA is headed to Paris for what may be the biggest World Championship ever, promising a tough haul for anyone who claws their way to the podium through so many top judo fighters.

There are a hundred competitors registered for the men’s 73kg division alone, noted two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist and head coach of USA Judo’s team headed to the tournament next week. “Last year we thought there were a lot with 80 in the 73kg division,” Pedro said.

“By far this could be the largest (World Championship) in our sport’s history,” Pedro said. “They may have to win five matches to make it to the quarter-finals.”

That’s unlikely to stop Kayla Harrison, 78kg. Leading the way for Team USA, this reigning World Champion is back for more. She took gold last year in Tokyo. “I fully expect her to get to the podium,” said Pedro. “What color medal she gets depends on how well she fights.”

Close beside her will be Team USA’s Travis Stevens. 81 kg. He took gold at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix in February and Silver in at the Moscow Grand Slam in May. “He’s had a fantastic year,” said Pedro, who coaches both Harrison and Stevens in the states.

Marti Malloy, 57kg, has been on a roll, taking three World Cup medals last month alone, including a gold at the World Cup Miami. “She’s improved a lot,” said Pedro. “She looks fit, she looks strong and she’s added a lot to her judo repertoire.”

Some of our best will be fighting on the mend from injuries, not uncommon at the elite level of such a physically demanding sport.

Michael Eldred, 73kg, a favorite for USA Judo’s Olympic Team in London next year, is headed to Paris after repairing from a broken bone in his foot at a World Cup tourney in the spring. “Hopefully, he’ll be at 100 percent” next week, Pedro said.

Nick Delpopolo, 73kg, is another strong shot at the Olympics for USA Judo but he also is on the mend from an injury, a strained chest muscle that cost him time on the mats recently.

Among the up-and-coming stars, Angelica Delgado, 52kg, who hails from the club Ki-Itsu-Sai in the judo foundry of Florida, is among the developing players that USA Judo is sending to the World Championships. Delgado, said Pedro, “is young but has shown that she can contend with the best in her division and she might reach a medal.”

Click here to see the full roster.

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