Team USA Judo Brings Home Two Bronze Medals
The 2023 IBSA World Games took place in Birmingham, England at the University of Birmingham. Paralympians Liana Mutia (El Idrissi Judo Academy) and Christella Garcia (Team Sacramento Judo) earned podium finishes in the J1 category for totally blind athletes. Mutia competed at -57 kg and Garcia fought in the +70 kg category!
Mutia earned her second straight World Bronze Medal, who was a Tokyo Paralympian in 2022 where she also earned a bronze medal. Ranked fifth in the world, Mutia opened with a quick win in the round of 16, beating World No. 7 Vanessa Wagner (GER) using one of her signature throws, a drop seoi-nage. Her next opponent would be Yiji Shie (CHN) where Mutia would unfortunately lose by ippon in the form of a choke.
In the repechage rounds, Mutia made quick work of Flora Buranyi (HUN) after throwing for waza-ari and moving straight into the pinning position. In the bronze medal match Mutia was faced off against Priscilla Gagne (CAN). Heading into the third minute there was no score and then Mutia launched Gagne to score for waza-ari. Gange was unable to score and the bronze medal was awarded to Liana Mutia at the -57kg category!
Christella Garcia +70kg is on track to become the oldest female to represent Team USA in judo at either the Olympic or Paralympic Games. Garcia ranked sixth in the world heading into competition. After a seven year lay off she was ready to jump back into action!
Garcia would go on to defeat 2023 IBSA Asian Champion Feruza Ergasheva (UZB) in the bronze medal final. She threw Ergasheva for ippon in the opening minute of the fight to earn her third podium finish of the year.
Beijing Paralympic Andre Watson (El Idrissi Judo Academy) earned a key point in his return to the sport after more than a decade away from the sport. Andre finished seventh in Birmingham in the J1 90 kg category.
Congratulations to all the Team USA Judo competitors! We are looking forward to seeing them continue to build on these results!