LAS VEGAS, NV, JUNE 1, 2019 – 2019 USA Judo Senior National Championship
SBG Montana’s Stella Davison placed 1st at the 2019 USA Judo Senior National Championships in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday, June 1st, making her a Judo National Champion.
She won gold in the Female Brown Belt 57 kg after winning 4 matches by Ippon, despite sustaining an injury in her final match.
Davison’s performance at the match was the accumulation of months of preparation and experience from past tournaments.
“Fostering and coaching a competitive athlete at any level takes a lot of time and energy,” Head Coach of SBG Judo Sean Saadi shared. “A world-class athlete like Stella just requires more of it.”
“Our preparations leading up to this tournament were pretty intense,” Davison shared. “This included working out every morning and then hurrying home to get dressed and grab my homework for school, as well as several hours of Judo practice on Saturday mornings and Wednesday nights.”
Davison added, “From cardio circuits to the back-to-back rounds of tandoori (sparring), Coach Sean never had any problem pushing me to my limit and then past it!”
The real test was when Davison sustained an injury 22 seconds into her final match. She attempted a throw and landed hard on her elbow. “When I stood up, I immediately knew that something was wrong and felt the searing pain in my shoulder.”
It was an injury that could have ended the match for Davison, losing the momentum she worked so hard to build up. However, all her preparation gave her the grit she needed for that final push.
“I made the quick decision to push past this distraction, and I reminded myself that I came here to win,” Davison shared. “I wasn’t going to give up after the hours of work and sacrifices.”
That kind of strong will and determination are the qualities needed to coach a world-class athlete. “She shows up, I show her a path, and she navigates it well.”
Davison’s injury has Saadi rethinking that path. “Next up was going to be team trials at Junior Olympics at the end of June. That’s out of reach, while we rehab the injury sustained at Nationals. Immediate focus will be healing and maintaining a routine that includes physical training and teaching at the gym to stay involved and focused, then back in training as soon as possible.”
Some would view this injury as a setback but for Davison the injury is proof that she has what it takes to be the best in the world.
“From here I can see myself standing up against judokas (Judo players) from other countries,” Davison said. “How I will stack against them I can’t say, but I can tell you that I am confident enough in my abilities to start training harder with these high-level opponents in mind.”