Olympian Delpopolo Plans to Compete in Rio in 2016
The U.S. Judo champ came in 7th in his first Olympic appearance.
While Nick Delpopolo's Olympic debut didn't end with the gold medal he traveled to London to capture, the U.S. Judo champ has not lost his fighting spirit.
"As of now, he is planning on competing in 2016 in Rio," Delpopolo's mother Joyce, a Cranford High School history teacher, wrote in an email sent to Patch Monday night. "Even though he fell short of the medal round, he moved two levels closer to being #1 in the world: from #12 to #10. He also told us that competing in the Olympics was so exhilarating."
After winning his first two matches Monday morning, Delpopolo, 23, of Westfield, fell to top-seeded Ki-Chun Wang, of South Korea, a two-time world champ, in overtime at the Excel Center in London.
Delpopolo lost the repechage contest to Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal of Mongolia. The winner, in this case Sainjargal, advanced to the bronze medal round, where Sainjargal won again.
Delpopolo secured his spot on the U.S. Olympic Judo team Saturday, May 12 after a dramatic fight to the finish against long-time rival Mike Eldred at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. He is among six Americans competing on the U.S. Judo team and is the only one in his 73 kg, 161-lb weight class.
Depopolo, who took up the sport at the age of 5, explained to Patch in March that while a handful of Americans have medaled in the sport of Judo at the Olympics, none has ever taken home the gold.
"I look to be the first," he said.
Joyce also noted that the last Olympian from Westfield was 1992 bronze medalist Chris Campbell, a wrestler.
In an email sent to Patch on Saturday, Joyce explained that her son was reveling in the thrill of meeting other athletes.
"Nick says that living in the Olympic Village and being in the Olympics is like Christmas," Joyce wrote. "He met and had his picture taken with Kobe Bryant and also met Serbian tennis star (Novak) Djokovic."
Now it is the Olympian's turn to be the subject of admiration.
"I got a kick out of some children and whole families stopping to talk to Nicholas about watching him compete," Joyce wrote Monday. "He stopped what he was doing and would shake hands with each person. This reminded me of when Nick was around 8 years (old) and he would ask the Giants for their autographs after a game or when he would ask Olympic Judo athletes, Jimmy Pedro and Jason Morris, for their autographs and now they are his coaches."
For more on Delpopolo's journey to the London Olympics, visit the following: