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Freshman Myers heading to Abu Dhabi for Judo Championships

BY BLAKE DOWSON | MAY 08, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa freshman finance major Melissa Myers will head to Abu Dhabi with the U.S. women’s judo team for the World Championships in October.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” Myers said. “It will be the third time I’ll get to fight internationally in judo. I don’t get to fight people from other countries very often.”

Myers made the women’s team after finishing second at the U.S. National Judo Championships, held in Dallas on April 11-12. After competing at the adult level in Dallas, Myers will compete at the junior level in Abu Dhabi.

In the sport of judo, contestants compete in different age and weight groups. The athletes must make weight before they start competition, in which they fight against others in their weight class in matches that last between three and five minutes.

Contestants pay their own way to the national championships in hopes of winning and making the American national team.

“Competing at the national championships was awesome,” Myers said. “You get to fight people from all over the United States. There are a lot of people you haven’t seen before.

“Those people give you a run for your money. They fight really hard. It was a good opportunity for me to get better and learn from my mistakes.”

Myers’ training partner, Art Durnev, a UI finance associate professor, traveled to Dallas with her and competed in his own “old man” division, as he called it.

“I competed in the old-man category,” he said. “That’s not as important [as Myer’s division]. For Melissa getting second place, that is a big achievement.”

Myers said she has been doing judo since she was 4 and now teaches judo classes at Iowa. Durnev is in the class that she teaches.

Abu Dhabi will be an experience for Myers, and she looks forward to meeting her new teammates.

“I don’t really know anyone on the team,” Myers said. “I’m excited to make some more connections; that can be really helpful. I’ll have different people to train with, get some more bodies to practice with. I’m going to learn a lot.”

Myers said the physicality of judo is what she likes most about it. Judo involves the entire body and is very physically demanding, another thing she loves about it.

“It’s very dynamic,” Myers said. “It’s a full body workout. I get to do things that other sports can’t. In other sports, you can’t throw your opponent, but in judo you can. It’s great for me to work out.”

She said she hopes her trip to Abu Dhabi leads to more opportunities to compete and leads to some wins as well.

“Hopefully, I can go over there and win some matches,” she said. “Maybe if that happens, I can qualify for some more international tournaments, too.”


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