By Tamas Mondovics

As a first-time member of the United States delegation, Florida School of Judo student, Sarah Subko, 16, of Dover, took part in the World Cadets Championships, an international event considered by far the biggest junior Judo tourney held in Florida.

At final count, the tourney saw 530 athletes from 77 nations, all of whom had to qualify for a chance to attend the event held earlier this month at Miami’s Trump Doral Golf Resort and Spa, which offered $50,000 in prizes, as well as a path to Olympic competition, requiring a tremendous resolve and dedication to the sport and competition.

“Being on this team is a lifetime opportunity; it’s definitely the highlight of my summer, and after all of the training I’ve done, I’m ready to leave it all on the mat and make my country, friends, family, and coaches proud.”

Subko first became intrigued with judo at the age of five after observing a practice. “I asked my mother why those kids were wearing pajamas, but she explained they were wearing gis,” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve practiced judo and it’s been great.”

Proud of all the young athletes, USA Judo spokesman, Ernest Pund, spoke highly of the determination and commitment of each contestant when he said, “In the words of our CEO, Jose H. Rodriguez, our 19 team members, including Sarah Subko, were fighting the “best of the best of the best,” and we are extremely proud of all of them.”

Eager to get on the mat and win for her country, Subko fought hard but was halted early on by the Netherlands’ Hilde Jager.

“At this level of competition fighting, you don’t get a second shot,” Pund said, but added, “What we know is that Sarah will be back, and as an incredibly talented member of the Florida School of Judo, we expect to see her on the highest podiums anywhere.”

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