Two-time OIympic Judo Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison paid a visit to athletes at the Palm Beach County Convention Center to begin the Judo competition and sign autographs for athletes.
She gave an inspirational message about her younger days of competing to the 175 judo athletes at the opening ceremony, with a focus on the younger competitors. “Sometimes we lose and it’s going to be hard. But every day you can be motivated and disciplined. A black belt is just a white belt that never quits.”
Besides Harrison’s appearance, another Olympian, Hector Lombard, a former member of the Cuban National Team, now training in Coconut Creek, won a gold medal in the Master’s Division. In his first match of the day, he squared off against James Washington, a 36-year old from the West Palm Beach Judo Club.
Washington admitted that while he lost the match, he held his own against the former Olympic team member and current Mixed Martial Arts fighter and former middleweight champion. “It was fun fighting against him,” Washington said. “I’ve seen the guy on pay-per-views crushing people. He was very quick.”
Annual SSG Judo Award Winners
Outstanding Male Junior – Javier Delgado
Outstanding Female Junior – Juliana Velasquez
Outstanding Male Senior – Hector Lombard
Rene Duchene Award for Dedication to the Sport of Judo: Hector Estavez