(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - Paralympic newcomer Greg De Wall (Chico, Calif. / Stanford Judo) learned the importance of never giving up on Tuesday when he beat the odds to win a bronze medal in the +100kg division at the Paralympic Games - De Wall's best international finish and the only medal for Team USA on the judo mat.
With less than three years of competitive experience, De Wall came into the Games as an underdog to some, but his fifth place finish at the 2007 International Blind Sports Association World Championships showed that he had the potential to contend for a medal.
In his first match, De Wall took control early, pinning former World Champion Yargaliny Jimenez (CUB) for a full 25 seconds in the opening minute.
Clearly invigorated by the win, the totally blind De Wall shouted "That felt great!" to his coaches as he walked off the mat.
In the quarter-finals, De Wall met Song Wang (CHN) in front of Wang's home crowd. De Wall was unable to score against the physically imposing Wang who won the match with waza-ari (half-point), yuko (quarter-point) and koka (smallest point) scores.
Wang would go on to win the silver medal while De Wall dropped down to the repechage (loser's pool) to fight through for the bronze.
After a break, De Wall faced Alexander Parasyuk (RUS) who he pinned in the second minute to advance to the bronze medal match against Jung-Min Park (KOR).
Although De Wall was down by a waza-ari and a yuko score against the Korean, he continued attacking and soon picked up a koka score on a penalty committed by Park.
While others might have given up hope as the clock ran down, De Wall kept pursuing Park who sustained an injury in the waning seconds of the match. The medical staff was called out to the mat to assist Park who was bleeding from the head, but ultimately the referee called the match in favor of De Wall due to injury with 12 seconds remaining which gave De Wall the bronze medal.
De Wall's win makes him the eighth U.S. player ever to win a Paralympic medal.
Myles Porter (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) drew a Paralympic legend for his opening round in the 100kg division when he fought Antonio Silva (BRA), a three-time Paralympic Champion.
Down by a penalty, Porter was caught when Silva threw him with an ippon seoi nage (shoulder throw) that ended the match with an ippon (instant win) score in the fourth minute.
"We know each other well and he just kept blocking me," said Porter after the match.
While Silva would go on to win title #4, Porter dropped down to the repechage where he took Hamzeh Nadri (IRI) to the ground, armbarring him for the win.
"The second match felt good, and I just need to be crisp on my attacks," he said referring to his upcoming match against Bill Morgan of Canada. "Some say it's harder to fight for bronze than gold."
During the evening session, Porter dominated his match against Bill Morgan (CAN), winning by two waza-aris in just over a minute.
With one win left needed to earn the bronze medal, Porter's uchimata (inner thigh throw) was countered by 2007 World medalist Juan Carlos Cortada (CUB) in the first minute.
The loss gave Cortada the bronze and Porter a fifth place finish - equal to his result at the 2006 World Championships.
"I like fighting him," Porter said of Cortada. "He's a good person, and I couldn't have lost to a better player."
Neither of De Wall and Porter's teammates placed on Tuesday.
In her Paralympic debut, 19-year-old Jordan Mouton (Houston, Texas / Diamondback Judo) found herself as one of the smallest players in her 70kg division. A 57kg player at the 2007 World Championships and a 52kg player in 2006, Mouton moved up to 63kg when her division was cancelled at the Parapan American Games.
Although she did not qualify a slot for Team USA at the Games at 63kg, Mouton won the Paralympic Trials in the 70kg division in April and came to Beijing knowing she would be fighting stronger, more experienced opponents, but she was up to the challenge.
In the first round, Mouton drew Maria del Carmen Herrera (ESP), the reigning World and Paralympic Champion.
Using her experience to her advantage, Herrera threw Mouton on the first exchange with an uchimata (inner thigh throw) for ippon (instant win).
While Herrera would go on to win her second Paralympic title, Mouton moved down to the repechage where Mouton used her background as a high school wrestler to try and pin Nikolette Szabo (HUN).
Although Mouton fought well, Szabo regained control, throwing the American for ippon with a kata guruma (fireman's carry).
Andre Watson (Upper Darby, Pa. / Liberty Bell Judo) also drew the reigning Paralympic Champion first round when he fought Mesaoud Nine (ALG). Nine couldn't throw Watson, but he did beat the Paralympic newcomer by a penalty in the five-minute match.
"I would really have liked to see Watson with a win," said assistant coach Scott Moore (Englewood, Colo.), a 2000 Paralympic Champion. "I think he could have taken Nine with more time."
In the repechage, Watson was thrown with a kata guruma early in his match against Anatoliy Schevchenko (UKR).
Complete results are as follows:
1. Oleg Kretsul (RUS)
2. Tofig Mammadov (AZE)
3. Olivier Cugnon de Sevricourt (FRA)
3. Samuel Ingram (GBR)
5. Anatoliy Shevchenko (UKR)
5. Messaoud Nine (ALG)
7. Abel Vazquez (ESP)
7. Sebastian Junk (GER)
Also Competed: Andre Watson (Upper Darby, Pa. / Liberty Bell Judo Club), 0-2
1. Antonio Tenorio Silva (BRA)
2. Karim Sardarov (AZE)
3. Juan Carlos Cortada (CUB)
3. Mykola Lyivytskyi (UKR)
5. Myles Porter (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center)
5. Haruka Hirose (JPN)
7. Bill Morgan (CAN)
7. Gerald Rollo (FRA)
1. Ilham Zakiyev (AZE)
2. Song Wang (CHN)
3. Julien Taurines (FRA)
3. Greg De Wall (Chico, Calif. / Stanford Judo)
5. Gabor Papp (HUN)
5. Jung-Min Park (KOR)
7. Rafael Moreno (ESP)
7. Alexander Parasyuk (RUS)
1. Maria del Carmen Herrera (ESP)
2. Lenia Ruvalcaba (MEX)
3. Tatiana Savostyanova (RUS)
3. Sanneke Vermeulen (NED)
5. Nikolett Szabo (HUN)
5. Nicolina Pernheim (SWE)
7. Jordan Mouton (Houston, Texas / Diamondback Judo
1. Yanping Yuan (CHN)
2. Deanne Silva (BRA)
3. Irina Kalyanova (RUS)
3. Zoubida Bouazoug (ALG)
5. Rikei Komatsu (JPN)
5. Sara de Pinies (ESP)
7. Celine Manzouli (FRA)