Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
The 2012 USA Judo Junior Olympics were held at the Irving Convention Center July 20-21. All around the large room, the winners beamed and the losers were downcast and many times even crying.
Quentin Cook, a lean, swarthy teen, took home the gold medal for the Juvenile Division A - sixty-kilo weight group. Not only will he go home with one of the highest awards at this event, but also his victory here at the Junior Olympics has earned him a spot on the USA team going to the Pan American Infantile Championships.
This is not Cook’s first time at the Olympics, and he said that the important lessons he learned last year were instrumental in his victory this time around.
“Last year I got choked out,” he said. “This year, I actually won my semi-finals match with a choke, and my finals match with a choke.”
When asked why he fights, he said, “It’s just something I love. I started at five, and I’ve loved it ever since. My club is like family for me.”
Grab, pull, slide and crash. Reset. One boy had his opponent in a hold that looked something like a half nelson, their bodies at perpendicular angles to each other.
Another gold winner is sixteen-year-old Bruno Reagan who won the Juvenile B division for +90 kilos, a very broad weight class.
“You can get people from 220 pounds to 350 pounds,” Reagan said.
Although he had an excellent tournament, Reagan did not let himself get cocky.
“I didn’t get scored on during the tournament,” he said. “And although that can happen, judo’s a very humble sport; some guy can come out of nowhere – a white belt can beat a black belt. This tournament I played it out real smart, real safe, real aggressive and it got me the gold.”
But he did not plan to stop with Friday’s victory. He planned on competing later that weekend in two more divisions: the under 20 for +100 kilos and the open division.
“Anyone from one pound to five thousand pounds can enter the open division,” Reagan said. “It’s meant to find to best fighter in the age group.”
Reagan was extremely excited that he has the opportunity to participate in a division as challenging as the Open.
“Usually heavy weights dominate this division,” he said. “But there have been some upsets; there have been some really athletic fighters of lower weights who have beaten much heavier opponents.”
This love of the challenge was evidently one of the reasons Reagan loves judo.
“It’s the best sport in the world. It’s you and another man on the mat fighting – there’s no one else to blame if you lose. It’s all about your heart, your determination.”
All of the athletes I encountered that morning carried themselves with an easygoing confidence. They also possessed keen minds for quick problem solving that are necessary for one to react to an opponent in hand-to-hand combat.