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After securing just one bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games—Ronda Rousey's middleweight bronze was the first piece of hardware in U.S. women's history—Team USA has nowhere to go but up in the 2012 Games.
The national squad hopes to once again make history in London, with eyes set on multiple medals, including the tantalizing possibility of Gold No. 1—never before has the United States captured the top prize in the sport traditionally dominated by Japan.
Judo has been a medal-producing Olympic sport since 1964 for men and 1992 for women, so snapping the 58-year goldless streak would be huge for the Americans.
To help get Team USA back to the judo podium, the national judo program has recruited the very best athletes.
Key pieces include:
Kayla Harrison (-78kg). (Also pictured above)
Since coming onto the adult international circuit following the 2008 Games, 21-year-old Kayla Harrison has impressed and restored hopes of a U.S. Olympic gold.
Harrison shocked the world in 2010, winning the women's half-heavyweight gold at the World Judo Championships in Japan followed by a 2011 bronze in Paris and gold during the Pan American Judo Championships in Guadalajara (2011).
Harrison is the United States' best shot to make history by taking the first gold medal in the history of the national Olympic program.
Nick Delpopolo (-73kg).
Another Team USA youngster, Nick Delpopolo will hope to shock the judo world in July as he stands an outside shot at crashing an Olympic finals or bronze medal match.
If Harrison is all-buzz to take the women's gold, Delpopolo will hope to sneak in with the men's. Competing in the 73-kilogram event, Delpopolo will be the lightest American male in London, though his chances of capturing the prize might weight heaviest.
Travis Stevens (-81kg).
Since 2008, Stevens has won Pan American bronze in San Salvador (2010) and silver one year later. He will hope that like Harrison's Guadalajara gold, his silver success will translate to an Olympic medal.
Other Key Judo Team Members:
The United States will also field:
Marti Malloy (-57kg).
World Championship Teams: 2007 (Ninth)
Pan American Games Teams: 2007 (Fifth)
Pan American Championship Teams: 2008
Kyle Vashkulat (-100kg).
Senior World Championship Teams: 2010
Senior Pan American Championship Teams: 2010 (Bronze), 2009
Junior World Championship Teams: 2009, 2008
U.S.A. Chances and Challengers in London
When: Both the men's and women's judo competition will kick off on July 28 at 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with the men's 60-kilogram and women's 48 bronze scheduled for that very same day at 9:00 a.m ET, followed by the men's and women's gold medal final in the 60 and 48, respectively, at about 11 a.m. ET. The competition continues through Aug. 3 with multiple medals awarded each day.
The competition runs from lightest to heaviest weight class, which means the U.S. team's best shot at gold—Kayla Harrison—will compete later in the competition, on Aug. 2. The women's 78-kilogram bronze finals are scheduled that day, with the gold final immediately thereafer.
Venue Information: The ExCeL Exhibition Centre—ExCeL stands for Exhibition Centre London—will feature the judo competition of the XXX Olympiad. Located on the London Docklands between Canary Wharf and the London City Airport, the ExCeL will also host boxing, fencing, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.
Gold: Tomoko Fukumi, Japan
Silver: Sarah Menezes, Brazil
Bronze: Urantsetseg Munkhbat, Mongolia, Shugen Wu, China
Gold: Misato Nakamura, Japan
Silver: Bundmaa Munkhbaatar, Mongolia
Bronze: Natalia Kuziutina, Russia, Erika Miranda, Brazil
Gold: Kaori Matsumoto, Japan
Silver: Rafaela Silva, Brazil
Bronze: Automne Pavia, France, Telma Monteiro, Portugal
Gold: Yoshie Ueno, Japan
Silver: Gevrise Emane, France
Bronze: Lili Xu, China, Anicka van Emden, Netherlands
Gold: Lucie Decosse, France
Silver: Haruka Tachimoto, Japan
Bronze: Edith Bosch, Netherlands, Ye-Sul Hwang, South Korea
Gold: Akari Ogata, Japan
Silver: Kayla Harrison, U.S.A.
Bronze: Audrey Tcheumeo, France, Mayra Aguiar, Brazil
Gold: Megumi Tachimoto, Japan
Silver: Wen Tong, China
Bronze: Elena Ivashchenko, Russia, Lucija Polavder, Slovenia
Gold: Rishod Sobiroz, Uzbekistan
Silver: Hirofumi Yamamoto, Japan
Bronze: Amiran Papinashvili, Georgia, Georgii Zantaraia, Ukraine
Gold: Masashi Ebinuma, Japan
Silver: Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar, Mongolia
Bronze: Alim Gadanov, Russia, Leandro Cunha, Brazil
Gold: Ki-Chun Wang, South Korea
Silver: Riki Nakaya, Japan
Bronze: Mansur Isaev, Russia, Ugo Legrand, France
Gold: Jae-Bum Kim, South Korea
Silver: Leandro Guilheiro
Bronze: Takahiro Nakai, Japan, Travis Stevens, U.S.A.
Gold: Daiki Nishiyama, Japan
Silver: Ilias Iliadis, Greece
Bronze: Dilshod Choriev, Uzbekistan, Asley Gonzalez, Cuba
Gold: Takamasa Anai, Japan
Silver: Henk Grol, Netherlands
Bronze: Maxim Rakov, Kazakhstan, Tuvshinbayar Naidan, Mongolia
Gold: Teddy Riner, France
Silver: Sung-Min Kim, South Korea
Bronze: Andreas Toelzer, Germany, Islam El Shehaby, Egypt