Judo – Inside the Pan Am Games 2007


Thiago Camilo wearing the blue Gi


Dani Zangrando after receiving her gold medal


Every 4 years, the Olympic Games atract the attention of the international media to the sports world. Many of them atract me, and most of all Judo, Wrestling and Boxing.

The Pan Ams are the Olympic Games of the American continent, including South, North and Central Americas, and the Caribbean. In 2007, the Pan Am Games are happening in my hometown, Rio de Janeiro, for the first time ever.

The atmosphere of the games is wonderful as the city itself, with crowds of fans supporting the local athletes in all sports featured, from boxing to water ski and bowling. Tickets were sold out for most days of the Judo competition, with many people coming from all over the country to watch the matches and support Flavio Canto, Thiago Camilo, Edinanci, Joao Derly and the others in their quests for the Pan Am golds.

Thiago Camilo, Joao Derly and Edinanci confirmed their espectations, as well as Danielle Zangrando, and took gold in their divisions. All the other brazilian judoists took silver or bronze, with either Cuba or the USA taking the highest place in the podium. The exception was Flavio Canto, that had to abandon the games due to a serious injury.

Considered the best Ne-waza (ground game) in Judo, bronze medalist in Athens and gold in the last Pan Ams (Santo Domingo 2003), Flavio was the fighter everyone was expecting to see taking gold in his hometown. All the bets were on his side, and he did not disappoint the crowd, using good strategy to win the Cuban athlete considered to be his most dificult opponent in his first match.

After a nervous start in the semifinals, though, he was thrown by his american opponent, and landed badly on his elbow, breaking it in two parts. Canto still came back to fight, but his contusion prevented him from resisting the last minute and he was thrown again, this time for Ippon. Unable to fight again for the bronze, he left the mats without a medal and without possibilities to compete in the World Championships that will take place in Rio next September, leaving us all sad with this unfortunate incident.

I would like to wish Flavio Canto a quick recovery and my sincere hope that he will come back from this injury even stronger and motivated to turn the tide and go to the next Olympic Games in Beijing and take the gold there.

This week will have the Boxing finals and the Wrestling competition, so stay tuned in our blog for more info.

Pictures featured here were taken by me with my ordinary camera and lack of skills, but if you want to obtain free, high quality pictures of Judo and other sports in the Pan Am games, visit Fotocom.net.

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