Favorite

To the mat 

NLR native ranked high in women's judo.

At age 28, Christal Ransom is still a very young woman. But as an athlete, she's beginning to feel the physical strain of a life spent committed to a very physical sport. One of the world's best in women's judo, Ransom missed out on the 2008 Olympics because of a last-minute change. Now aiming for the 2012 Games in London, she says that it's make or break.

Originating in Japan, judo is a grappling martial art, in which contestants try to throw each other to the mat, then get their opponent to "tap out" by using a series of crippling scissor locks, choke holds and arm bars. It's not for the faint of heart. While your average martial art involves speed of fists and feet, Judo doesn't allow punches or kicks. Given that, it's often about brute force — about making your body overcome and subdue the body of the opponent in the most literal way possible.

Christal Ransom doesn't look like the kind of woman who'd be involved in such a rough-and-tumble sport. Now living in Colorado Springs to be closer to the U.S. Olympic Team training facility there, she said a passion for the ice during her days at Horace Mann Junior High led her to the judo mat. "I got started when I was about 14," she said. "I actually used to play ice hockey in Little Rock. I was the only girl and I needed more balance. So I just kind of picked up judo. I didn't even really know what it was." Since graduating from Central High School, she has committed herself to the sport. In May, she won the Judo Senior National Championship in her 63-kilogram weight class, and is a favorite to make the Olympic national team for 2012.

Her rise to the top hasn't been without some setbacks. In the summer of 2002, Ransom's ankle was shattered when a friend's Corvette crashed. That injury, which had her hobbling on an ankle full of pins for months, set her back far enough that it likely cost her a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. In 2008, Ransom qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team, but saw her dreams of a gold medal in Beijing stymied when her weight class was dropped from the competition.

"It's kind of a confusing situation," she said. "I kinda made the Olympic team, but didn't get to go, so it doesn't really count ... It's depressing. It makes you feel like you've wasted a ton of time."

Ray Ransom is Christal's dad. He attends many of her matches. A former champion wrestler at Jacksonville High School back in the early 1960s, he understands his daughter's drive to win. "Man, you cannot believe the kind of shape that child's in," he said. "She gets that scissor lock around their neck and she's put two girls unconscious. If they don't pat out, they go to sleep... If you don't pat the mat, she's not going to turn you loose until you do. You might get up and kick her butt, so she's gonna leave you down there." He said that even though Christal is one of the most successful women in her sport, she keeps things in perspective. "She just lets her fighting speak louder than words," he said. "She's a very humble young lady. Now, every time she gets a medal, she comes over and hangs it around my neck and says, 'Dad, this is for you.' I think that's great."

For Christal, the next two years are all about keeping her eyes on the prize and her fingers crossed that her weight class makes it to the London games. She trains twice a day, seven days a week, alternating between weights and cardio. In between, she trains constantly at throws, choke holds and leg locks. When interviewed, she had just got back from a meet in London, and was jetting out two days later for another competition in Brazil. She said the next Olympics will be extremely hard to qualify for, with only the top 14 women and the top 22 men in the U.S. being allowed to go. Whatever happens in 2012, she admits it will likely be the end of her career in judo.

"I'll always do something," she said. "I'll always stay in shape. I might start playing pickup hockey again... I'm sure I'll do something, but something where you don't get beat up so bad, that's for sure."

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by David Koon

  • Bonnie Montgomery celebrates the release of her new album at South on Main

    And much more.
    • Feb 22, 2018
  • Bitter pill

    Arkansas is second in the nation when it comes to opioid prescription rates. Those numbers are edging down, but some say the worst of the epidemic may be yet to come.
    • Feb 22, 2018
  • For lovers

    We put our usual cynicism and grousing on hold as we genuflect in the direction of Aphrodite, with highly questionable sex and relationship advice from our staff, much sounder advice from an honest-to-God sex therapist and entertainment editor Stephanie Smittle's survey of two of the state's finer rubber schlong and porno emporiums.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Asa on pre-K

    • Aug 17, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

  • Righting Governor's School

    Summer program at Hendrix targeted once more.
    • Feb 22, 2018
  • Special legislative session could make Arkansas first to regulate pharmacy benefit managers

    On Monday afternoon, Governor Hutchinson said he would call a special session of the Arkansas legislature to address low reimbursement rates provided to pharmacies by middleman companies called pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs.
    • Feb 19, 2018
  • Pharmacy reimbursement fight prompts special session call

    Since Jan. 1, Brandon Cooper, a pharmacist at Soo’s Drug Store in Jonesboro, has turned away a number of patients seeking to fill routine prescriptions. The problem is not that the pharmacy lacks the drugs in question or that the patients don’t have insurance, Cooper said. It’s that the state’s largest insurance carrier, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, recently changed the way it pays for pharmaceuticals.
    • Feb 18, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Bitter pill

    Arkansas is second in the nation when it comes to opioid prescription rates. Those numbers are edging down, but some say the worst of the epidemic may be yet to come.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation