Aug. 27--While he's reached his 50th year of training in the Japanese martial art of Judo, E.L. Mayfield of Jacksonville had not competed in a tournament since 2002 when he captured gold medals in the masters division in two national events. But as he prepared his students for the several tournaments this summer, the 68-year-old Mayfield decided to return to the competitive arena at the 11th World Masters Open Judo Championships in Atlanta. "Mainly the idea was to get out here and set an example for my students," Mayfield said. And what an example. Mayfield, who runs his own judo academy in town, won a bronze medal in the 81-kilo division (roughly 179 pounds) in the 65-69 age group, winning four of six bouts in the championships, which concluded this past weekend. Not only that, of the four men to receive medals -- the championships gave out two bronze medals -- Mayfield was the only non-Japanese. "Judo being a Japanese sport, a Japanese art, I think that's pretty prestigious to be able to stand with them," said Mayfield, a sixth-degree black belt in Judo who retired from the Marines as a sergeant major after serving 30 years. "So I'm pretty proud of that accomplishment." And ready for more, noting his two losses were to Japanese judo players. "I'll get them. I'll remember them," he said Wednesday. Asked if he was already preparing for next year's championships, Mayfield said he wasn't sure. "I'm getting ready. I think so. I have to compete to get 'em," he said. "I'm going to even up the score. I plan on it. There's another masters' (tournament) in Massachusetts in October or November. I may compete in that. We'll see." Mayfield said he felt "pretty good" after his first competition in seven years. "I didn't get hurt or anything else. So that's successful any way you look at it," he said. In preparing for his return to competition, Mayfield said he had to "beef up" his training, including morning runs with his students as they prepared for the Junior Olympics, the Junior U.S. Open and the Junior World Trials. "I hadn't been training for competition at all," he said. "It was kind of a spur of the moment thing because I was taking my kids out getting them ready..., and then I began to feel pretty good myself. I didn't tell my wife or anything. "I packed up my gear and said, 'I'm going to go.' I usually work these tournaments from the national and international level. I decided to go for it, and I came back with a bronze medal. I'm not at all displeased with that." Mayfield, who is the team manager and an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic judo team, said there's a difference in the competition today compared to his heyday.
"Judo is more physical than technical these days," Mayfield said. "Guys are more bullies than they were in my day. We dealt with finesse and style in my day. Now it's ... strong-armed, all upper body, locking you down. ... But it's part of the game." Given that, Mayfield said he played it smart during his bouts. "I paced myself. I knew what I could do and couldn't do. I was able to read my mind and my body. I've been doing this for 50 years so I think I know how to deal with that. So I didn't go too far," he said. "I probably could have finished a lot higher -- or a lot worse, really -- based on me blasting too much. "But instead I dealt with what I could deal with. I didn't put too much on my plate because to me it was a tune-up. You don't want to blast yourself or hurt yourself because the repairing process is long at my age, if you repair at all."
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"Local 68-year-old Judo player wins bronze." Daily News [Jacksonville, NC] 27 Aug. 2009. Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Collection. Web. 10 Dec. 2009.
Gale Document Number:CJ206655324
United States Judo Association - USJA
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