Skelley and Goodrich clash in Paralympic judo final U100kg
An exciting final day of judo at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games ended with British and Iranian judoka entering the history books at the Nippon Budokan. A tense clash between Great Britain’s World Championships bronze medallist Chris Skelley and the USA’s Benjamin Goodrich saw both judoka register significant results for their countries in the final of the men’s up to 100kg.
Skelley and Goodrich both came into the match with nothing to lose. Skelley was already delighted with making it onto the podium having missed out at Rio 2016.
Into the final it was Skelley who made the first successful move just under a minute in. A tomoe-nage secured him the waza-ari.
Both men tried, and tried again, to get points on the scoreboard and as the clock ticked down the tension grew. With 20 seconds remaining, at the re-start, Skelley’s coach Ian Johns shouted to his fighter: “Be brave. Be brave.”
And brave Skelley was, fighting until the end and holding on for the win. It was Great Britain’s first Paralympic gold in more than two decades, since Atlanta 1996.
“[It’s] disbelief. It’s been a long road for the last 11 years. It was hard after Rio (2016).
“It put a big target on my back, so I needed to get here and train even harder to stay where I am.
“Eleven years ago [when I started to lose my sight], I was at the darkest part of my life because there was nothing left for me. The only thing that was left was my judo.”
“To have that come true today, I can’t believe it.”
Goodrich also showed incredible grit having endured an epic nine-minute match in the preliminaries.
“It’s bittersweet. I’ve beaten Skelley before,” Goodrich said. “He’s a tough match, he’s a good guy. We brawl a lot. It was a hard match, but it was the shortest one today. It was a hard fight – four minutes.
“He’s got a great technique, but I went out there and did what I could.”
With just seconds until he was about to secure his seventh consecutive Paralympic medal, Brazil’s Antonio Tenorio had to face a Golden Score against Uzbekistan’s Sharif Khalilov in the bronze medal match.
Tenorio was the first on the scoreboard, registering a waza-ari early on the fight. Khalilov however did not give up and just managed to level the score with three seconds left.
Those watching on could be forgiven for thinking it was a given that Tenorio would secure his latest podium, despite the set-back. But Khalilov once again had other ideas, registering a Uki-otoshi to steal the bronze from the Brazilian’s clutches.
The RPCs’ Anatolii Shevchenko took the other bronze.