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Judo competitors to spar at Gwinnett Center

DULUTH - Some of the top Judo competitors from across the country will be joined by athletes from 21 other international delegations for the USA Judo U.S. Open Championships at the Gwinnett Center this weekend.

The competition is an important event leading up to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Judo, which will be held next June in Las Vegas.

"Nearly everyone who's a serious candidate for the Olympics will be here," said Nicole Jomantas, spokesperson for USA Judo.

More than 200 international players are scheduled to compete.

This is not the first time USA Judo has held a competition in Gwinnett. The organization was in Duluth for the Junior Olympics in 2005.

"We had a great experience and that's why we're back," Jomantas said.

Countries scheduled to participate in the competition include Afghanistan, Australia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Ghana, Great Britain, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Scotland and Tajikistan.

"This makes it one of the larger events in the Pan-American region," Jomantas said.

Judo is a modern Japanese martial art in which the object in competition is to either throw one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent.

SideBar: If you go

What: USA Judo U.S. Open Championships

Where: Gwinnett Center (6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth), Halls A & B

Cost: $12 for one day, $20 for two days

Schedule:

Friday - Preliminary Competition, 10 a.m.; Gold Medal Finals, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday - Preliminary Competition, 10 a.m.; Gold Medal Finals, 5 p.m.

Sunday - Masters (Ages 30+) Divisions, 9 a.m.; Kata (Forms) Divisions, 1 p.m.