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Tacoma Olympian Loses Heartbreaking Match in Men’s Judo

American Loses heartbreaker in Judo
(FrankFife/AFP/GettyImages)

In a pair of brutal matches, Tacoma’s Travis Stevens lost  a semi-final match to the man he fell to in the Beijing Olympics, then lost a heartbreaker in the bronze medal match.

Stevens  fought hard against Ole Bischoff to whom he had lost four years earlier.

Despite a significant cut to his head requiring a bandage, Stevens fought Bischoff to a scoreless tie. They then went into what is called Golden Time in judo, or a tie-breaker. The referee will penalize an athlete if they do not “attack” enough during the match, and apparently the referee felt Bischoff was the aggressor, awarding him the match in the 81 kilogram (178 pound) category.

A short time later, Stevens lost 1-0 to Canadian Antoine Valois-Fortier for the bronze. However, his strong showing proves that Americans are getting much better at a sport where medals have been few and far between.

My son studied judo for three years. Unfortunately, the only traditional judo you will see now is from the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans. European judo, as often seen in the Olympics, is a far more brutal physical brand of the sport — a far cry from the origin of the word “judo” meaning “gentle way” in Japanese. When my son went to kindergarten and was asked to count to ten, he did so in Japanese!

The sport was invented by a Japanese physical education instructor as a way for students and children to get in shape. It emphasizes coordination, smooth footwork, and using an opponent’s aggression to be his downfall.

Stevens can be proud of his efforts and we hope he will try again in Rio in 2016.

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