Joyce and Dominick Delpopolo are enjoying the vacation of a lifetime. The Westfield couple is traveling in London but in addition to taking in the usual sights, the Delpopolos are there to see one main attraction: their son , 23, compete for Olympic gold.
Nick, ranked number one in the U.S. and 12th in the world, secured his spot on the 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 weight class.
Nick explained to Patch in March that while a handful of Americans have medaled in the sport of Judo at the Olympics, none has taken home the gold—something he has dreamt about since he took up the sport at the age of 5.
"Nick says that living in the Olympic Village and being in the Olympics is like Christmas," Joyce wrote in an email sent to Patch Saturday evening. "He met and had his picture taken with Kobe Bryant and also met Serbian tennis star (Novak) Djokovic."
Joyce, a Cranford High School history teacher, expressed her gratitude to everyone watching back home. "Thanks to all those in Westfield who have commented on seeing Nick in the Opening Ceremonies," she wrote.
Joyced added that Proctor and Gramble has a hospitality center where families and friends can gather to share the Olympic spirit.
"At this center, we are provided with food, laundry, Internet, numerous TVs on which we can watch the Olympics: so wonderful and so appreciated," she wrote.
Nick will compete on Monday, July 30 when he takes on Chi Yip Cheung of Hong Kong.
"Anyone can watch at 3:30 a.m. EST, match #6 on http://www.nbcolympics.com/judo/results-schedules/index.html," Joyce noted. "Brackets can be found on www.ippon.org."
In March, Nick told Patch what Judo has meant to him. He credits the sport with giving him "strength, speed and flexibility, discipline, integrity and character."
"To change a quote from Vince Lombardi, 'There should only be three things in life: faith, family and Judo,'" Delpopolo said. "The sport defines me as much as I define it. It is my passion and something I will practice, teach and give back to for the rest of my life."
Nick, who traveled all over the world to compete in order to qualify for the Olympic Games, was born in Montenegro, where he spent most of his first two years in a small orphanage. When he was 21 months old, he was adopted by the Delpopolos. Joyce said that she hopes, after the summer games, to return to her son's birthplace and then continue on to Sicily, where her husband's family originated.