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Sayaka and Stephanie win GOLD at Senior Nationals


Stephanie Hata of El Cerrito and Sayaka Matsumoto of Richmond, both students of the East Bay Judo Institute, came away with gold medals at the 2001 U.S. Senior National Judo Championships in Orlando, Florida.

Hata, 16, had to beat a gutsy Peggy Whitaker from New York twice to win her gold medal. In her first match, she beat Whitaker by a decision. In the second match, however, Hata dominated Whitaker with gripping and movements, and threw her opponent with a shoulder throw, following into a pin for an ippon, or full point. (An ippon in judo is the equivalent of a knockout in boxing.)

Matsumoto, 18, advanced to the second round with a first round bye, and then faced young Leilani Akiyama from Washington. Being down in the match by penalties, Matsumoto dug deep to throw Akiyama with her favorite uchimata (inner thigh reap) and followed into a pin for ippon. In the semi-finals, Matsumoto faced Crystal Brown from the Olympic Training Center (OTC) at Colorado Springs. Never challenged in the match, Matsumoto won by a penalty against Brown for stalling and defensive attitude. In the gold medal final, Matsumoto faced Christine Carrera, also of the OTC. One minute into the match, however, with Matsumoto on the attack, Carrera forfeited the match, giving Matsumoto the gold.

Both Hata and Matsumoto repeat as two-time gold medallists in the U.S. Senior Nationals, both having won gold medals in last year’s national event. Matsumoto is also the Olympic alternate from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, a silver medallist at the 2000 International Judo Federation Jr. World Championships, and the 2000 U.S. Olympic Committee’s Female Athlete of the Year.

The East Bay Judo Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the teaching of Kodokan Judo. Classes are held Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and are taught by Dr. David Matsumoto. For more information on class schedules, contact the EBJI at 510-237-0607 or visit their website at