Judo: The comeback of Nicolina Pernheim in São Paulo
Date: July 5, 2022
The star of day 2 of the competition was undoubtedly Nicolina Pernheim. The ambassador of VI judo turned back to competition after taking a break from competition since the Tokyo Paralympic Games. She is an example of why the split in categories was needed.
Pernheim decided to take a break from competition because of her work as a physiotherapist: “Next to judo, I am working as a physiotherapist for blind children. I am helping them with moving with the goal of being more independent. After Tokyo, I decided to focus on work and training and to take a break from competition.“
#Accessibility – Pernheim is on the tatami in a blue judogi fighting with Brazilian Brenda Freitas de Souza, with white judogi
She decided to make her comeback in Sao Paolo and did that in style. In her last contest, she faced Brenda Souza de Freitas, still unbeaten this year. “I was a bit nervous because she is new and winning everything. Luckily, I have a great team around me for support. My coach and training partners are telling me exactly what she is doing, since I can’t see that for myself. They helped me prepare“. Pernheim looked more ready than ever, winning all her contests before regular contest time. She put on an attractive show with both tachi- and ne-waza techniques. “The split between J1 and J2 has been really good for me. I’ve been the best B1 athlete for so long, but it didn’t always show in medals, since the categories were not split up.” With that said, she proved not only to be the deserved gold medal winner today, but also the one to beat for the upcoming championships.“
The final of the +90kg J1 category showed a repetition of both Antalya and Nur-Sultan Grand Prix of this year. Both Wilians Araújo of Brazil and Jason Grandry of France are in top shape this year, reaching another final together. Araujo, the Rio Paralympic Games silver medalist, won the previous two editions.Unfortunately for Grandry, also, this edition was decided in favour of Araujo. With a shime-waza, he forced Grandry to tap out after an intense contest.
In the same category, we could see the most decorated Paralympian in action. Antonio Silva is a four-time Paralympic champion and doesn’t look ready to stop yet. With attractive judo and brilliant ne-waza actions, the 51-year-old only lost out to Grandry today before facing Yerlan UTEPOV of Kazakhstan. With a perfectly executed armlock, he secured another bronze medal to add to his extended collection.
It was not only Nicolina Pernheim that made her comeback today. Double Paralympic Champion Dalidaivis Rodriguez Clark took a much longer break, as she hasn’t competed internationally since she won the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She had other priorities as she became a mother, but decided to come back for this Paralympic cycle. Coming back after six years of absence would be problematic for many, but Rodriguez made it look easy. She won both her contests and picked up the gold medal in this category. Missing today was current Paralympic Champion Alana Martins Maldonado of Brazil, who is recovering from an injury. The return of Rodriguez is an interesting development in this already strong category, and only the future will tell us if there will be a clash between the champions.
After two days of competition, it’s host Brazil that ended up on top of the medal table. Winning 6 gold medals and 17 medals in total, they were the most successful team in São Paulo. Arthur Silva, winner of the J1 -90kg category, explains the success of the Brazilian team: “This success is not born in one day. It’s the result of a lot of training and dedication. For me, it’s more than ten years of career. And now I am getting what I wanted“. Other gold medals were for Kazakhstan, Algeria, France, Great Britain, Canada, Venezuela, Cuba, and Sweden.
Photos: Tuane Fernandes/CBDV