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Nick Delpopolo Earns First Grand Prix Bronze

November 23, 2010
Article Attributed To: Judo Team USA


(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Less than six months ago, Nick Delpopolo (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) was what observers on the World Cup circuit probably would have referred to as “an up-and-coming player who could do well in 2016.”

Now the 21-year-old has established himself as a top contender for the 2012 Olympic Games in the 73kg division with four World Cup medals to his credit, including two golds and a silver from the Oceania Judo Union World Cup in Samoa last week.

On Tuesday, Delpopolo won his first Grand Prix medal with a third place finish in a 40-player division at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“At the beginning of the year I sat down with [my coach] Jimmy [Pedro] and planned out my 2010 goals. The three goals we set for myself were to make the World Team, win three World Cup medals and be top 16 in the world,” Delpopolo said. “It's satisfying to take a step back and know that I have met or exceeded those goals"

Delpopolo had a first-round bye before meeting Guangyao Han (CHN) in the second round. After Han was given a penalty, Delpopolo took the lead when he threw Han with a one-handed tai o toshi (body drop throw) for a yuko (quarter-point) score. Delpopolo added another yuko to his side of the board when Han committed a second penalty. With less than 10 seconds remaining, Delpopolo scored again with a seoi nage (shoulder throw) for a waza-ari (half-point) score.

In the third round, Delpopolo and four-time World Cup medalist Murat Kodzokov (RUS) were tied with two penalties each. When the match went to Golden Score (overtime), Kodzokov was given a third false attack penalty and Delpopolo earned a second win.

Delpopolo fought 2007 Budapest World Cup medalist Sandor Taraba (HUN) and threw the Hungarian twice for waza-ari scores to advance to the semifinals.

In the semifinals, Delpopolo and Volodymyr Soroka (RUS) fought for two minutes before Soroka caught Delpopolo with a throw for ippon (instant win).

The loss meant Delpopolo was awarded a bronze medal in the single elimination event.

“I didn't feel my best today but having Jimmy here really helped me because he always pushes me to that next level,” Delpopolo said. “Looking back on it, I'm finishing my year with four World Cup medals, a Grand Prix medal and a top-nine finish at the World Championships. I'm looking forward to raising the bar for myself next year.”

Ranked as one of the top 18 players in the world going into this event, Delpopolo hopes his bronze medal will allow him to break into the top-16 when the year-end rankings are tallied.

“This was my last tournament and I'm happy that I came away with a medal. I hope that my performances over the last year will qualify me for the World Masters tournament in January,” Delpopolo said.

Also representing the NYAC and USA Judo National Team FORCE, four-time World Cup medalist Travis Stevens (Wakefield, Mass.) narrowly missed the podium with a fifth place finish in the 81kg division.

Stevens opened the tournament with a first-round win over 2009 Qingdao Grand Prix medalist Mohamed Darwish (EGY) whom he threw for ippon (instant win).

In the second round, Stevens defeated 2008 Paris Super World Cup Champion Sergiu Toma (MDA) by two penalties.

Stevens advanced to the quarter finals, but fell short of his quest for bronze when he was footswept by four-time World Cup medalist Vitaliy Dudchyk (UKR).

Stevens’ fifth-place finish marked the third top-five finish for Team USA during the first two days of competition.

“The team is fighting awesome! With a ton of continued experience, training and adjustments, we should have a legitimate shot at a couple of medals at the 2012 Olympics in London. Our top athletes are now competitive with the best players in the world,” said Coach Pedro.

Competition concludes on Wednesday when 2010 World Champion Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) and Billy Worthington (Richmond, Calif. / Cahill’s Judo) take the mat in the 78kg and 100kg divisions, respectively.


Top-five results are as follows:

Men’s 73kg

  1. Mansur Isaev (RUS)
  2. Volodymyr Soroka (UKR)
  3. Nick Delpopolo (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE)
  4. Dex Elmont (NED)
  5. Victor Penalber (BRA)
  6. Sandor Taraba (HUN)
  7. Attila Ungvari (HUN)
  8. Christopher Voelk (GER)

Men’s 81kg

  1. Sven Maresch (GER)
  2. Aljaz Sedej (SLO)
  3. Vitalii Dudchyk (UKR)
  4. Artem Vasylenko (UKR)
  5. Francesco Bruyere (ITA)
  6. Tomislav Marijanovic (CRO)
  7. Elkhan Rajabli (AZE)
  8. Travis Stevens (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE)

Women’s 63kg

  1. Yuhua Xu (CHN)
  2. Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA)
  3. Yahaira Aguirre De Juan (ESP)
  4. Hilde Drexler (AUT)
  5. Selda Karadag (TUR)
  6. Vera Koval (RUS)
  7. Anicka Van Emden (NED)
  8. Elisabeth Willeboordse (NED)

Women’s 70kg

  1. Rasa Sraka (SLO)
  2. Cecilia Blanco (ESP)
  3. Edith Bosch (NED)
  4. Juliane Robra (SUI)
  5. Erica Barbieri (ITA)
  6. Nataliya Smal (UKR)
  7. Kerstin Thiele (GER)
  8. Meiling Zhang (CHN)


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