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US Judoka Targets Gold at Summer Universiade in Kazan

May 6, 2013
Article Attributed To:
Official website of the 2013 Summer Universiade (World University Games) in Kazan


There are exactly two months left to go to the opening day of the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan. With the most anticipated multi-sport event just around the corner, will be telling its readers the stories of young aspiring athletes that will be coming to Kazan for the 2013 Summer Universiade.

World University Games Interview Picture

The 23-year-old US judo champion Nick Delpopolo is currently second to none in the Unites States and ranks 6th in the world after rising from the 99th place over the last three years. The athlete has a specific purpose for July 2013 - to break the losing streak of American judokas at Summer Universiades. For this purpose, Nick has been training hard and scrutinising his major rivals' performances. In an exclusive interview below, the judoka talks about his sports career and the things that matter in his life.


What do you think is the recipe for a successful sports career?

I think to be successful in sports you must never hesitate to do what's best for you, the athlete. You must trust your gut and your instincts because at the end of the day you only get one career and to me there would be nothing worse than coming to the end of my career and regretting not training somewhere or trying something that could have benefited me.


What is a typical day like in the life of a US judo champion?

These days it seems like all I do is train, study and drive! I wake up and try to do my school work first. I am working toward a degree in Business Law so it can be very tedious and I find if I do my work at night I don't have the energy to focus as much as if I study in the morning. I drive 45 minutes to my personal trainers (Elite Athletes Performance of South Florida) where I normally train for two hours. After that I grab some lunch with my girlfriend, come home and do video review of my opponents and rest before heading out again for an intense evening judo session.


What do you know about Kazan? What do people in your country know about Kazan?

Well I can only speak for myself, I know that Kazan is home to a little over a million people and it is referred to as the "Sports Capital of Russia". I have competed in Moscow and also spent a month training with the Russian national judo team in Sochi but it will be my first visit to Kazan and I am excited for the experience!


What are your expectations for participation in the Summer Universiade? Are these competitions seen as prestigious by athletes?

The World University Games is very prestigious among many past famous Olympic champions in judo. I am honored to be competing here and we haven't had an American win a medal at this event in almost 20 years so I hope I can end that drought and bring one home!

World University Games Interview Picture

Who is your major rival at these Games?

I haven't seen a list of who the competitors are yet but I know the Russian, Dennis Iartsev, is the defending champion and if he is competing again, he will have the home support so he is definitely someone I am looking out for.


What do you like to do in your free time? How are your practice sessions organized?

While I am not traveling my sessions are each morning/early afternoon and each evening through the week. On Saturdays I have a morning session and then the rest of the weekend is for rest. I'm a huge sports fan so if there is any game on you can be sure I am watching it. I also like to go to the movies with my girlfriend. We have an old time drive in theater close to us so we go there a lot for their double features. I'm also an animal lover so I enjoy spending time with my cats.


Apart from judo, is there any other passion in your life?

Yes, I am adopted from an Orphanage in Niksic, Montenegro and it is my life's passion to one day work to get judo and sports programs into overseas orphanages so that the kids can have the chance that I had. I am very blessed to be adopted and recognize that my life could have been very different.


Do you agree with the unofficial Olympic motto, ‘The important thing is not the victory but the contest’? What does participation in each competition mean to you?

Absolutely, competing to me is the culmination of a period of hard work and it is a thing to be proud of in and of itself. When I am out on the mats it is a result of the hard work that I put in when no one is watching at home in my gym and in my home Dojo's.

World University Games Interview Picture

You have won multiple competitions. Which of your victories was the most cherished one and which was the hardest?

I would say my most cherished victory was becoming the first American man to win gold at the Great Britain World Cup. I had just made a big transition in my career and it was a sign to me that I made the right decision. My hardest victory was winning the Olympic Trials. I competed only against one other American who was a hard worker and a really nice person who is well liked by everyone. I knew that only one of us would walk away an Olympian and felt that we both deserved to be one. I was both happy that I won and sad that my compatriot lost.


What did you want to be when you were a child and when did you realize you were going to become a pro athlete?

When I was a kid I wanted to become an actor, I still hope that maybe I will do this after I am finished competing! I have always been lucky to be trained by coaches who either coached at the Olympics or were Olympians themselves so seeing and being around people who have achieved the highest accolades in sport has been a daily occurrence for me since I was 5 years old. I can never remember a time when I didn't think I was destined for this life.


Do you have any idols in the world of sports and in everyday life?

My favorite athletes are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dirk Nowitzki. I'm also a die hard NY Giants fan. My idols in everyday life are my parents. They taught me from an early age that I could be anything I wanted to be in life.

World University Games Interview Picture

What sporting event would you like to attend as a spectator or a fan? (a team you’ve been a fan of all your life, a national team and sport you would like to attend during the Summer Universiade)

I'm very interested to watch belt wrestling as I know it is a Russian specialty. I'd also like to see tennis, wrestling, boxing and sambo.


What would be you wish or advice to young aspiring athletes who dream of participating in the World University Games?

I would say that life is never easy and people who can put their head down and keep moving forward through the tough times are usually the most successful. It is important to stay determined no matter how hard things are around you.


Media Department of Kazan 2013 Executive Directorate


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