Morris Cup Judo Championships to return Sunday after two-year absence; At BHBL

Ari Berliner (in blue) throws an opponent during the 2019 Morris Cup Judo Championships. Credit: Lou DiGesare

Ari Berliner (in blue) throws an opponent during the 2019 Morris Cup Judo Championships. Credit: Lou DiGesare

BURNT HILLS After a two-year absence because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Morris Cup Judo Championships return Sunday.

Former four-time Olympian Jason Morris admits he didn’t miss the challenge of putting on such an undertaking, but added, “it’s necessary for our sport to have events like this.”

The event will be held at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, starting at 9:30 a.m. and running until approximately 7 p.m. It will feature over 500 competitors, including some of the best in the Northeast and Canada, including two-time Olympian Nick Delpopolo, Kyle Tran, Randi and Dani Morris.

Jason Morris said the judo players from the Province of Quebec are always looking for high-level competition, and the Morris Cup “is an easy sell because we’re in a good location.”

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The day starts with the senior elite judo players and goes all the way down to beginners.

“This covers all walks of our sport,” Morris said. “We’ll use six mats, and each competitor in all the different categories can expect to go for about a couple of hours.”

Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each category. The senior elite men’s and women’s champions will win $250 so long as at least five competitors are in the class.

According to Morris, interest in judo in the Capital District peaked at 1,200 registered players in the mid-1970s. Naturally, the pandemic took some people away from the sport, notably children.

“Some didn’t come back,” said Morris, a 1992 silver medalist  and the USA’s 2008 judo coach in Beijing. “Unfortunately, that’s been the nature of all things with kids during the pandemic. If you have a kid drop something at age 8, you’re not likely to get him back at 12.”

That said, however, Morris said he has gotten some new children and families into his judo center in Glenville.

Judo is the most widely practiced martial art in the world. In its competitive form, judo involves throws, pins, chokes and arm locks, but no kicking or punching.

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