The most veteran member of the Judo team, Stevens will be competing at his third Olympics. He lost in the quarterfinals in 2008 and the semifinals in 2012. The 30 year old ended the qualification period ranked No. 5 in the world in his weight class.
Travis Stevens is American top judoka U81kg. He was fifth at the 2012 London Olympic Games and multiple winner of various IJF event such as Tashkent and Dusseldorf. Travis Stevens won Panama Chs and Panama Games in 2015. He started 2016 with silver in Havana and won the World Masters in Guadalajara.
The Rio Games will mark Stevens’ third Olympic appearance. He finished ninth at 2008 Games and fifth at the 2012 Olympics.
The field at the World Masters was missing several heavy hitters, including four of the top five athletes in the world rankings: Georgia’s Avtandili Tchrikishvili (world No. 1), Japan’s Takanori Nagase (world No. 2), Bulgaria’s Ivaylo Ivanov (world No. 4) and Russia’s Khasan Khalmurzaev (world No. 5).
The top seed in the World Masters field was Canada’s Antoine Valois-Fortier, the bronze medalist from the London Games who defeated Stevens in the third-place match there. However, world No. 3 Valois-Fortier dropped his opening match and would not face Stevens in this particular tournament.
Stevens won all four matches in the tournament en route to claiming gold. He faced off with Bulgaria’s Joachim Bottieau (world No. 15) in the final round and won the match by ippon in the closing seconds.
“I feel really relieved, this takes the pressure off me, as I came here to get a seeded position for the Olympics,” Stevens told International Judo Federation (IJF) Media. “Now we will put together a game plan for Rio. I will take 10 days off and then go again. This was one major stepping stone for me towards Rio.”