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Sayaka and Ann take GOLD and SILVER in Finland!


Hi again to everyone from Finland. Ann and I arrived here to Helsinki this afternoon (Nov. 9) after a 16 hour ferry ride from Stockholm.

Our journey here began yesterday with us taking a 5 hour bus ride from Boras to Stockholm. From there we boarded the Viking cruise ship which left at around 4:45pm and arrived here in Helsinki at 10 am. The cruise ship was the same as the one we rode last year, and had duty free shopping, restaurants and nightclubs to name a few. The cruise ship also had a sauna area with a jacuzzi so Ann and I spent some time there relaxing and getting our weight under control.

We arrived to Helsinki this morning and it is cold and wet. We arrived at the hotel around noon and were able to get situated. The draw comes out tonight around 9 pm and we compete tomorrow from 9 am.


We just wrapped up the first day of competition here in Finland. East Bay was represented extremely well with myself and Ann taking first and second, respectively.

Ann had a great day, winning her first match by ippon to Leanne Black from Scotland, pinning her with sankaku (triangle hold). In her second match, Ann defeated last week’s champion, Bianca Ockedahl, by koka in the last 20 seconds. In the semi-final, Ann used her matwork skills yet again to defeat a Finnish opponent to put her in the finals.

In my first match, I competed against a Turkish opponent who I fought last weekend. I pinned her for koka then threw her for ippon with osotogari. in my second match, I pinned my Estonian opponent with sankaku to face Oiana Blanco from Spain in the semi-finals. I was losing by yuko when I pinned the Spaniard for ippon to meet Ann in the finals.

Our honorary East Bay member, Michael Eldred also made it to the finals, taking second in his division. Mike has been consistently placing in many major events this year, including medaling at the British Open and Swedish Open. This has helped solidify his spot in the 2008 Olympic Team Trials, to be held next June in Las Vegas.

All in all it was a great day for us here in Helsinki. We start our long journey home tomorrow morning at 6 am and get back to the Bay Area on Sunday night.

We would like to say thank you to all our training partners, Matsumoto Sensei and fellow dojo members for being so supportive. Without your help we wouldn’t have been able to take 3 medals here at the Finnish Open!

We also want to say a big thank you to Asanuma Sensei who traveled with us this whole trip.


For more information about the Finnish Open:
US Judo – Overview of US Athletes at Finnish Open
US Judo – Finnish Open Day 1 Results