Nina Cutro-Kelly to become oldest U.S. Olympic judoka in history
When USA Judo announced the final U.S. Olympic judo team on Monday, two athletes were added to squad that will compete in Tokyo and it became clear one would make history.
Nina Cutro-Kelly is set to become the oldest U.S. judoka in the sport’s 57-year Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.
At 36 years and 217 days when the women’s +78kg category competes on July 30, Cutro-Kelly will be some 34 days older than Celita Schutz was at the Athens 2004 Olympics, her third and final Games.
Only three women from any nation have been older than Cutro-Kelly when competing in judo at the Olympics, the leader being Ecuador’s Carmen Chalá who was 42 in 2008.
Cutro-Kelly is a veteran of the sport, competing internationally since 2008 and winning five medals at Pan American championships or Games in that time, but the 10-time U.S. champion will make her Olympic debut in a few weeks.
She and Nefeli Papadakis were awarded Olympic spots in judo’s reallocation process.
Papadakis is ranked No. 30 in the 78kg class in the International Judo Federation’s Olympic ranking, and Cutro-Kelly No. 32.
The 22-year-old Papadakis, whose father emigrated from Greece to attend college in the U.S., is a three-time reigning national champion and three-time continental championship medalist.
2016 Olympians Angelica Delgado, 52kg, and Colton Brown, 90kg, had previously qualified.
The four-person team is the U.S.’ smallest since women’s judo was added to the Olympic program in 1992.
Judo will return to its birthplace of Japan, where it also made its Olympic debut in 1964, this year with seven men’s and seven women’s events, plus an inaugural mixed team event. The U.S. is not entered in mixed team as it requires three men and three women.
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Correction: An earlier version of this post had incorrect numbers for Cutro-Kelly’s Pan American medals and U.S. titles.