Citadel professor wins gold at Pan American Games in Cuba
A Citadel chemistry professor and former U.S. Navy antisubmarine warfare officer now holds one of the world’s top titles in judo. Lisa Capriotti, Ph.D., competed in the Pan-American Judo Championships in Havana, Cuba, recently. Capriotti, part of Team USA, along with her husband and judo partner, Robert Gouthro, brought home two gold medals.
The games were held at the Ciudad de Deportiva, a historic sports stadium in a quiet corner of Cuba’s capital city. Amid swaying palms and vintage cars, judoists from across North and South America gathered to compete. Capriotti, Gouthro, and the other Team USA representatives were chosen based on their performance at the U.S. Senior National Championships.
The first day featured kata competition and was dominated by the U.S., Brazil, and Canada. Kata is a two-person team skills demonstration. It is graded by expert judges and is technical, exacting, and precise. Capriotti and Gouthro earned gold medals by defeating teams from Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico. The total medal count for the U.S. team at the kata competition was three gold and three silver medals.
“The best moment was standing on the podium in Cuba, watching the American flag rise to the top of the pole and hearing the Star-Spangled Banner throughout the stadium,” said Capriotti. “It’s a moment you usually get to see only on television. You can’t really describe the feeling you get when it happens to you in person.”
This was the first time Capriotti and Gouthro participated in the Pan-American Championships and it marked their first victory in international competition. They trained for the Pan American Games for more than a year. The husband and wife team won U.S. National Championship gold medals in 2014 and 2015. The duo will represent the U.S. for a third time at the 2016 World Championships in Malta.
Capriotti, served in the Navy from 2010 - 15. In addition to teaching chemistry at The Citadel, she is an investment advisor for LPL Financial. She has studied judo, karate, iaido, and jujutsu for 17 years and is a second-degree black belt in judo. She also assists in instruction for The Citadel’s required physical education judo classes. Capriotti earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry from University of Delaware.
Capriotti and Gouthro have practiced kata as a team for five years with the ultimate goal being the gold medal at the IJF Kata World Championships. They volunteer as instructors at the Samurai Judo Association on the Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek, a free club for active duty and retired military personnel, Citadel cadets, and Department of Defense contractors. They also volunteer at the American Judo and Jujitsu Academy on Highway 78 in Summerville.