Blind 15-year-old wins all three judo matches

Saturday, July 23, 2011 | 6:31 p.m. CDT; updated 5:09 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 26, 2011
James Pegram, left, won his division of the Show-Me State Games judo competition, beating Dan Williams, lower right, during Saturday's Show-Me State Games judo competition at Smithton Middle School.

COLUMBIA — Corbin Anderson came to Columbia from Lexington, Ill., for the Show-Me State Games to compete in judo at a different level. 

Anderson is a 15-year-old high school wrestler who has been competing in judo for about a year. He is also blind.

“I can see light perception in one eye,” he said. “I wasn’t born blind. I was about four when my sight started to degenerate. By seventh grade it was just about gone.”

The sport and its competition create a family of athletes with its eloquence, respect and etiquette. “We are all friendly. When we are fighting we are not, but in the end we are,” Clint Nickelson said at Smithton Middle School, the site of the judo competition.

Nickelson, a Columbia resident and member of the Columbia Police Department, has been competing in judo for 23 years. This year, he competed in the men’s heavyweight division at the games.

Nickelson explained that judo means “the gentle way” in English. The sport, a less dangerous form of jujitsu, has a high emphasis on the use of momentum.

The 43 competitors registered at this year's games were placed in divisions according to their age. Points were scored by maneuvers and holds that need to last 25 seconds in order to count.

The sport is not difficult for Anderson because he started wrestling around the time he lost his sight. He has only been competing for a year in judo but has contended in competitions.

Anderson is an aggressive judo athlete. He captured his first match, scheduled for two minutes, in mere seconds. When told he had won, he stood up with a big smile on his face. His heart rushed as he sat and discussed his match with his father, Jody Anderson, and his friend Sean Smathers.

Anderson won all three of his matches.

“It was fun to compete against Corbin,” said Chris Kiernat, Anderson's opponent for two of the matches. “He was good at the groundwork.”




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