On July 18-19, 2015 a team comprised of fourteen Judoka (practitioner of Judo) represented The Bahamas at the United States Junior Judo Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The team included six members of The Abaco Judo Club from Marsh Harbour as well as Coaches Al Lill and Regina Parotti. At the end of this tough two day tournament The Bahamas had won an impressive two gold, five silver and one bronze medal.
“Our Judoka were called upon to perform at a higher standard and they certainly delivered,” said Coach Regina Parotti. “I could not be more proud of them.”
Along with the impressive medal count from Abaco of one gold and five silver came three Shodan or black belt ranks being earned by Abaco Judo Club students. Coach Parotti explained that these ranks were obtained “after completing all requirements for the coloured belt ranks white through brown Bahamas Judo Federation students must win a match against a black belt in international competition.”
Going into this tournament The Abaco Judo Club had four students that had obtained the rank of brown belt and only need to win against a black belt in order to advance.
“Our first black belt candidate was Desmondo Bootle and he fought hard and got the victory over an American opponent. Then there was Dre Hall who defeated not one but two black belts to, as he put it, “just to make sure.” Rebecca Strachan completed our black belt quest with her victory over her black belt opponent.
The team was disappointed when Desmond Bootle fought for his black belt was given the victory and had it over turned upon review by the table judges. “That was very hard on us and as his coach my heart broke for him at that time.” Desmond went on to lose the match by a quarter of a point.
Medal success came on day one as Rachel Rolle pinned the Junior Pan American champion for a silver medal. This was the only medal for the day and after a good night’s rest and some last minute fine tuning the fighters were back in action on day two with lots of success.
Once again Rachel Rolle started the medal drive by earning a silver medal in her division and she was followed quickly by Rebecca Strachan with her silver medal performance. Jonathan Strachan had an extremely large division with almost 30 fighters and was not able to medal but had a very strong showing. Desmondo Bootle was next up on the medal podium for Team Bahamas with a silver medal and this left Dre Hall and Desmond Bootle fighting late into the day for their medals.
“These young men had a very large division with 25 fighters in it and it seemed like I sat in the coach’s chair for hours” said Coach Parotti. At the end of the day Dre Hall was able to pull off a very respectable fourth place and Desmond ‘Dede’ Bootle coming away with the gold.
“I think Dede was driven by sheer determination after his loss the day before. He needed to make sure that no one could take any of his victories back this time. Unfortunately none of his opponents in this divisions were black belts but he very proudly stood on the podium for The Bahamas and received his gold medal.
Shodan ranks will be awarded shortly by D’arcy Ramming Sr., President of the Bahamas Judo Federation. The Abaco Judo Club thanks everyone who contributed to help make this trip possible.
Final Medal Count for The Bahamas:
Gold – Desmond Bootle
Gold – Elaina Cuffy
Silver – Rebecca Strachan
Silver – Rachel Rolle
Silver – Desmondo Bootle
Silver – Ethan Cuffy
Silver – Rachel Rolle
Bronze – Vivian Charles