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Delpopolo is 5th in Dusseldorf
February 19, 2012
Dusseldorf, Germany 23 year old Nick Delpopolo turned in a career best performance after placing 5th out of over 50 competitors today at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix. Delpopolo repeated his 2011 performance, however in much more dramatic fashion.
Nick is currently ranked a career high 15 in the World, however he found himself facing a difficult draw when after a bye to the main draw he drew one of the most physically strong athletes on tour in Odbayar Ganbaatar from Mongolia. Ganbaatar came out aggressively and shut down most of Nick’s attacks for the first half of the match before putting in a well timed drop seoi-nage where Nick landed on his side but a generous Waza ari (half point) was called. With less than two minutes remaining in the bout Nick countered the Mongolian, scoring a waza ari of his own, tying the match. As time dwindled down Nick put in a strong one handed taio attack and scored a yuko with 20 seconds remaining. Nick kept his posture and held off Ganbaatar to win the match putting him into the round of 16 with Canadian rival and friend, Nick Tritton.
Delpopolo lost his only match with Tritton in 2011 at the El Salvador World Cup. Delpopolo was determined to change the outcome in 2012 coming out with a series of strong attacks that forced the Canadian into receiving a penalty for stalling. With less than a minute remaining Delpopolo received a false attack penalty evening the amount of pressure on both players. The match appeared to be heading towards Over Time when Delpopolo stunned the German crowd by throwing Tritton with a devastating left sided Uchimata with 1 second remaining on the clock. Nick fans halted their cheers and had their hearts in their throats as the referee awarded Delpopolo the win but then called both players back onto the mat to review the call not once but twice. After it was deemed that Delpopolo’s attack started before the time ran out, he was officially awarded the win and a spot in the quarter final with former World Champion and #1 ranked player in the world Ki-Chun Wang of Korea.
Nick went into the match with an 0-2 record against Wang and was desperate to change the outcome this time around. He came out with guns blazing and nearly scored on Wang twice after countering attacks by the Korean and lifting him high into the air. Both players traded solid attacks for the entire match and Wang was finally able to put a yuko on the board with less than a minute remaining after throwing Delpopolo with a double footed sacrifice throw.
When the time ran out and the Korean knew he had the victory locked up, he ecstatically ran around the mat in a huge celebration that lasted for about 30 seconds. If Nick was not aware that the Korean is growing weary of him, he certainly was after Wang didn’t hide his relief at squeaking past him into the Semi-final. Wang went on to win the gold medal and he won every one of his other matches during the day by ippon.
Although Nick’s coach, 4x Olympian Jason Morris, was not matside during the Grand Prix he accompanied Nick for 2 of his 3 weeks on the European tour and had this to say of his charges performance:
“We have been making minor adjustments to Nick’s game and over the last 6 months his Judo has clearly gone to another level and he is knocking on the door of big time success which is our goal.” Morris added “Paris and Germany are two of the toughest events on the World Tour and he lost by yuko at both events to the eventual gold medalists.” Morris finished his thought saying “Getting a chance to adjust him round by round during the French camp clearly paid off as he is looking as sharp as he has ever been in 2012.”
Delpopolo also put some perspective on his showing by stating:
“Having Jason on the tour with me definitely made a huge difference and I’m happy that I could utilize the things that we were specifically working on during the camp, but I’m nowhere near satisfied and wont be until I am constantly winning GOLD at these events”