Meet Nina Cutro-Kelly, the oldest U.S. Olympic judoka in history

The San Antonio resident is making history in Tokyo this year

Jen Tobias-Struski chats with Nina Cutro-Kelly

San Antonio – As the Olympic games get underway in Tokyo, San Antonio has some representation, thanks to Nina Cutro-Kelly. The 36-year-old is making history as the oldest U.S. Olympic judoka in history.

“The fifth time is a charm,” Cutro-Kelly said. “I was always really, really close to making the team and things always happened, sometimes I wasn’t good enough, sometimes I got hurt, sometimes there were just political complications.”

Cutro-Kelly started the sport at age 7 in Albany, New York after her dad realized the other extracurricular activities weren’t working out for her.

“I got kicked out of ballet, art class and I think tee-ball, from the age of 4 to that point and finally my father was like maybe judo, she won’t get in trouble for being too rough,” she said.

After she lost in a tournament at age 14, she took on a new coach, Jim Hrbek, who is now located here in San Antonio at Universal Judo. Cutro-Kelly has been training here in San Antonio since 2004.

“I fought in France for 8 years, but my home base has been San Antonio,” Cutro-Kelly said.

Twenty years of training and patience, so when the pandemic hit, she got creative.

“I’m fortunate enough that I have a roommate that does judo with me,” she said. “I started changing up my training, I was running I was doing Judo in my garage.”

She also taught judo at Echols Fitness as the restrictions were lifted.

“That was really awesome, I was able to share a sport that I really love,” she said.

According to Cutro-Kelly, in order to make the Olympics in judo, she had to be top 18 in the world.

“It’s pretty rewarding to know I’ve met my last goal in Judo, which was to make the Olympic team,” she said.

To keep up with Cutro-Kelly, click here to follow her on Instagram.

About the Author:

Jennifer Tobias-Struski loves her hometown of San Antonio, and is proud to celebrate it every day working on SA Live. The Emmy-Award winning producer hosts the Mom-Day series, featuring fun, family-themed segments from crafting to fashion hacks every Monday.