Paralympic Judo Grand Prix opens cycle marked by new rules

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The Paralympic Training Center in São Paulo hosted, on Saturday (19), the Paralympic Judo Grand Prix, the first national event of the modality under the new rules of the International Federation of Sports for the Blind (Ibsa). The tournament brought together 117 athletes from the country, some of them medalists and Paralympic champions.

From now on, totally blind judokas compete separately from those with low vision. Until the Paralympics in Tokyo (Japan), last year, everyone fought together, regardless of the ophthalmological classification. In contrast, the number of weight categories decreased from 13 (seven for men and six for women) to eight (four per gender).

“I can say that I was privileged, since the [categoria até] 57 kilos was maintained. It’s good to have more athletes in weight, but it’s bad to lose categories”, analyzed Lúcia Teixeira, owner of three Paralympic medals (two silvers and one bronze) and champion of the event in the new J2 class (low vision), at the Brazil Agency.

“One [judoca] with low vision can identify our foot, our stride, the change of footprint [no quimono]. So, we were at a disadvantage. Now, fighting blind against blind, it becomes easier”, added José Luiz Menezes, athlete of the category up to 60 kilos of the J1 class (total blind).

Four-time Paralympic champion, Antônio Tenório competed in the up to 100 kilos (light heavyweight) category, which no longer existed. The 51-year-old experienced judoka started to fight among athletes over 90 kilos (heavyweight) in the J1 class.

In the Grand Prix, he faced Williams Araújo, silver medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016, in the former heavyweight category (over one hundred kilos). Williams won the historic duel, later taking the title. Tenório finished third.

“Competitiveness is very positive. Athletes like Tenorio and Williams are exceptional and will put up a great battle. One will encourage the other to always be training. This develops a lot of judo. I know that the national team will come out strong to seek results abroad”, said Jaime Bragança, coach of the Brazilian Paralympic team in the sport.

Another athlete who had to adapt to the new rules was Harlley Arruda, who competed between judokas weighing up to 81 kilos, one of which was extinct. Now, the judoka fights in the up to 73 kilos category. The competition was the first opportunity for him to fight at a weight he hadn’t reached in over 20 years.

“We managed to eliminate 18 kilos in a month and two weeks. During this period I was without rice, beans, bread and pasta. In place of all that I put potato or a root. [Para manter o peso] you have to be training hard, two or three times a day”, said the judoka, who was champion of the new category in the Grand Prix, also in the J1 class.

The first international event of Brazilian Paralympic Judo under the new ophthalmological rules will be the Grand Prix of Antalya (Turkey), between 20 and 25 April.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News

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