Sarah Chung is one of six American women scheduled to represent her country in judo at the upcoming IBSA World Games in Seoul that officially get underway in 15 days. Chung will be competing in the + 70 kg class, where she is ranked eighth in the world. She is behind Uzbekistan’s Khayitjon Alimova, and ahead of Bulgaria’s Ivomira Mihaylova and American Katie Davis. She is the topped rank competitor domestically.
Crystal Lake, Illinois native Chung is hoping to qualify for the 2016 or 2020 Summer Paralympics. She is affiliated with Chicago based Brett Wolf Judo. Earlier this year, she was in Eger, Hungary at a World Cup event where she squared off against competitors from Turkey and Uzbekistan. It was her first international competition, where did not do well in the first match, and only managed one attack during the first exchange before going down in her second match. In February, she competed in an exhibition match at the Barrington Judo Winter Classic, which she won in four minutes. In April of last year, she competed in her first Kohaku shiai judo competition. Last year, she competed at the 2014 United States Senior Judo Nationals. in the + 70 kg class. At the weigh-ins, she was 91 kg.
Chicago based Chung graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2013 with a degree in communications. She is legally blind, and has been since birth as a result of optic nerve hypoplasia. Since 2008 she has used a guide dog. Outside of judo, competes in the occasional road race, participated in cross-country as a middle schooler and practiced taekwondo. Prior to taking up judo, Chung had some body image issues. Because competition classes are based on weight, the sport helped erode these issues and gave Chung a much healthier view of her own body.
Judo is taking place at the Seoul Student Gymnasium, with competition officially getting underway on May 12 and running until May 15. Judoka will have the opportunity to start training on May 8, two days before the opening ceremony. Judo has been part of the IBSA World Championships and Games since the event’s inception, and has been on the Paralympic program since 1988 when Seoul hosted the Games. Women’s judo was added to the Paralympic program in Athens at the 2004 Games.