NJ Olympians: Judo Nick Delpopolo [VIDEO]
Nick Delpopolo’s journey to the Olympics has been anything but textbook.
Born in Montenegro, Delpopolo spent the first few years of his life living in poverty-stricken orphanage, but when Delpopolo was 21-months old, his luck changed.
An American couple from Westfield, NJ came to Montenegro and adopted him. At the age of 5 his father took him to a Judo gym where Delpopolo fell in love, but as Delpopolo grew older, he turned his focus towards wrestling in hopes of receiving a college scholarship.
During his sophomore year of high school, a freak accident resulted in a career-ending wrestling injury. After a long rehabilitation process, Delpopolo shot into the spotlight of the Judo world. In 2010 Delpopolo rose from being ranked 99 to 16 in the world and number one in the United States.
After failing to qualify for the Olympics in 2008, Delpopolo will compete for the U.S. Judo team in the 73 kg weight class. Delpopolo hopes to become the first American to ever bring home a gold medal in Judo.
OLYMPIC UPDATE: Delpopolo looked strong early, winning his first two matches on Monday. He ultimately lost to No. 1-ranked Ki-Chun Wang of Korea after the judges decided the match unanimously in Wang’s favor. Delpopolo just missed the medal stand, but vows to come back in the 2016 Olympics stronger than ever.
On August 6, Delpopolo was disqualified from competition after testing positive for marijuana. According to Delpopolo, he accidentally ate something that was baked with the drug before the games. The International Olympic Committee has altered the standings in the event to reflect the recent findings. It is currently unclear if there will be any further action taken against Delpopolo.