Maggie Hendricks

Average fan's guide to judo

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

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Judo is the great sport where dreams of throwing somebody can actually come true. The point of judo is to throw and control your opponent. Certain throws can stop a match for the win, as well submissions and holding your opponent to the mat for 25 seconds. Though judo is much more than throws, the throws can be breathtaking and are reason enough to tune in.

USA Judo is still recovering from two different scandals. Daniel Doyle, a judo instructor from Ohio, was sentenced in February to ten years after having a sexual relationship with a minor. Fletcher Thornton, a judo official, resigned after the USOC investigated 30-year-old allegations of Thornton's misconduct with minors. Ronda Rousey, the country's top judo athlete, instigated the investigation after posting these allegations on her blog and on a judo forum. Still, USA Judo is hoping that a strong performance in Beijing will bring the focus back on the athletes.

The best shot for that strong performance is Rousey. Ranked in the top three at 70 kg (154 lbs), she was an Olympian in 2004 at the age of 17, making her the youngest judo athlete in the games. Now, as a wise old 21-year-old, she is ready to win gold.

I really can do it. I've fought all these girls before, and despite all the advantages in facilities, financial support, and scouting they have over me - I've showed everyone before that I don't care and will win despite what they have. Every day I've decided and been completely assured that I will win - I have. It's all about your state of mind. Besides, it's just a judo tournament, and winning judo tournaments is what I'm good at

If she can do it, she will be the United States' first judo champion and the women's first medalist.

Internationally, the sport has been dominated by Japan, but this year, several countries will look to make a mark. Ruben Houkes at 60 kg (132 lbs) and Henk Grol at 100 kg (220 lbs) from the Netherlands are both expected to medal, and Cuba's Yordanis Arencibia, a bronze medalist in Athens, has a strong shot at gold at 66 kg (145 lbs).

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