Siblings earn gold at judo nationals

By: Matt Long
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Folsom’s Curtis and Ashley Booth both earned gold medals at the United States Judo Nationals held July 3-4 at UC Irvine. The brother/sister duo is well known in judo communities, as Curtis, 12, defended his national title he won a year ago, while Ashley, 8, improved on her second-place finish from last year. Curtis won the Intermediate 2, 31-kilogram division, placing first out of a pool of 13 competitors. Curtis won all four of his matches. “Every year it’s getting tougher, but my goal was definitely to win it,” Curtis said. “I was really nervous and had butterflies before the championship match.” Curtis had heard that his opponent, who was from Hawaii, was good, but he had a plan to beat him. “He was able to keep up the attack on me so I had to counter him and hit him more quickly,” Curtis said. Both Curtis and Ashley have been practicing judo since they were 6 years old. The siblings train with Team Sacramento at Folsom MMA and put in eight hours of training per week. They’ve also incorporated freestyle and collegiate wrestling that helped them during the tournament. “I took wrestling more serious this year and I was able to turn guys over to pin them,” Curtis said. “I was wrestling guys bigger and stronger than me and that helped make me stronger and it helped me mentally as well, knowing I could throw these guys.” Ashley only had two matches in the Intermediate 1 division, 26-kilogram weight class for 8 and 9 year olds. She won the first match fairly easily and then earned a hard-fought victory in the second to place first. Ashley said she was confident going into the tournament, but still nervous. “I’m pretty happy and excited that I won,” Ashley said. “I have been working hard preparing for the tournament. I had difficulty throwing the girl in the championship match, but was able to hold her in a pin position.” More than 800 competitors from around the world competed in the event.