Valerie Gotay: American judoka (1973-) | Biography
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Valerie Gotay
American judoka

Valerie Gotay

Valerie Gotay
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American judoka
Is Athlete Martial artist Judoka
From United States of America
Field Sports
Gender female
Birth 5 November 1973, San Diego
Age 49 years
The details (from wikipedia)


Valerie Lafon-Gotay (born November 5, 1973 in San Diego, California) is a former judoka from the United States.


Gotay was born in San Diego. Her grandfather Piere Lafon and father Gerald Lafon are former judoplayers so she had good background for judo from youth. She began competing at age of 14.

At 18 years old, Gotay was supposed to compete in the 1992 Olympic Games in extra-lightweight category. Unfortunately, after working hard to lose some kilos to make her weight category, she became extremely sick with uncontrollable and violent muscle contractions which forced her to withdraw from the competition.

She decided to stop competing after Barcelona.

Gotay later married and has two children Breanna (1996) and Isabella (2001).

In 2004, she came out of retirement. "I missed the training," Gotay said. "I'm a pretty intense person. I love training. I missed training for something, having a goal and working toward it. I came back not even knowing I was coming back."

She was invited to compete in the British Open and in 2007 was part of the United States team at the Pan American Games.

She retired again after 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Her younger sister Natalie Lafon is still competing.

She started her own business as personal training "Fitness by Val" in Temecula and she is also a judo trainer.

She and her second husband Israel Hernandez now run SoCal Judo together in Temecula.


She could already start at 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona but she had some health problems during losing weight. She did not enter into tournament although she was in draw.

At 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing she was eliminated in second round by Isabel Fernández from Spain. Gotay went to Beijing with big (medal) ambitions but it was not very good tournament for her. She had already problems in first round with Gulzat Uralbayeva from Kazakhstan. Three minutes before end she got second chance because Kazakh judoka made a technique which was counted only as wazari (it had to be ippon). After this moment, young Kazakh judoka became very passive. Gotay advantaged it and won by ippon one minute before end.


Year Tournament Place Weight class
1992 Olympic Games DNS Extra-Lightweight (- 48 kg)
1996 Olympic Games DNS -
2000 Olympic Games DNS -
2004 Olympic Games DNS -
2008 Olympic Games 15th Lightweight (- 57 kg)
Year Tournament Place Weight class
2007 Pan American Games 2nd Lightweight (- 57 kg)
Year Tournament Place Weight class
2005 Pan American Judo Championships 1st Lightweight (- 57 kg)
2006 Pan American Judo Championships 3rd Lightweight (- 57 kg)
2007 Pan American Judo Championships 1st Lightweight (- 57 kg)
2008 Pan American Judo Championships 1st Lightweight (- 57 kg)

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