2023 Hungary Judo World Masters
On day one of competition Maria Laborde -48kg secured her first silver medal on the IJF World Tour since 2014 this past weekend at the 2023 Hungary Judo World Masters! Over the past two years we have seen Maria make strides in her comeback with a couple of continental open golds and a first Pan Am medal for almost a decade. There have been a few seventh places in the last year or so and a 5th place in Tel Aviv. However, in a field of former champions, her silver medal at the Masters stands out from the rest.
Reflecting on her journey, Maria had said this in an interview with the IJF, “I was retired. I was only 24 then and I wasn’t really thinking of ever coming back. In the USA, where I now live, there was a competition that is not so hard but there was some prize money. I had been out for many years but I thought it would be fun and I liked the idea of having some prize money. That was in 2021 and I had just gained my full American citizenship. I won the event and I thought ‘wow!’ I was out for almost 8 years and assumed my momentum and my judo fitness would not survive but it did.”
Maria also took the time to recognize the U.S. National Coach, Johnny Prado, as well as USA Judo as a whole. “Jhonny Prado, US National Coach, saw me there and said I would have a good chance to still make the US team. If I wanted to keep going he would help me. USA Judo supported me to attend my first continental open in Tunisia and I won again but I thought I could do better. It was a bit complicated but I needed to find a way to compete at the PanAms. I did and I won bronze. It wasn’t the goal but it was actually a good result. With this medal USA Judo took me officially into the team."
Laborde’s determination is clear. She is already looking forward to her next competition, the Zagreb Grand Prix. With a little under a year to go for the Olympic Games, Maria’s positive attitude and belief in her own capabilities will continue to carry her heading into Paris 2024.