Olympic diary: DiGesare heading to his final Olympics

My longtime friend and mentor will be making his final Olympic trip as he leaves to photograph judo

My longtime friend and mentor will be making his final Olympic trip as he leaves to photograph judo at his sixth Olympic games. Lou DiGesare of Glenville has been covering my career since 1984 until I retired after the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

He went to my first Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea with my mother Chris, grandmother Jo and my high school wrestling coach, Tim Koch. Ironically, the only Games Lou missed since were the 1992 Games in Barcelona, where I was fortunate enough to win a silver medal.

Since I retired, Lou has continued to cover the Games for my magazine “Real Judo,” which I started in 1997 with my wife, Teri. He also photographed the 1993 Worlds in Hamilton, Canada; 1999 Worlds in Birmingham, England; 2001 Worlds in Munich, Germany; 2003 Worlds in Tokyo, Japan; 2005 Worlds in Cairo, Egypt; 2001 Worlds in Brazil and the 2011 Worlds in Paris, France.

The two Olympians from the Jason Morris Judo Center, Nick Delpopolo and Kyle Vashkulat, are very lucky to have Lou cover every move they make on the mats of their first Olympics.

I met Lou for the first time when I was in eighth grade at the Burnt Hills Junior High School, as he was my metal shop teacher. DiGesare was a district media specialist for the Burnt Hills’ schools starting in 1968 and later added being an Industrial Arts teacher. We grew to be friends throughout my high school years. He was already a professional photographer, as well as a teacher, and began shooting some of my wrestling matches.

DiGesare first picked up a camera at age 13 and hasn’t put it down since. His photos were excellent, as he developed into a terrific sports photographer and always was willing to get the best equipment.

He then began shooting some of my local judo tournaments then made a deal with Koch that if I made the 1988 Olympics, that they would go. They were true to their word and climbed aboard a plane to Seoul.

Lou would always take photos of me when he could, which remain mostly the only photos I have of my career. Lou went to all my events on his own dime, as well as developing all the film (before the digital age) for me. Lou is one of the best in the business for the sport of judo, and I am very lucky have him, not for just the competition photos, but for the access I have to him for taking pictures of my now 21⁄2-year-old daughters.

Lou will be turning 74 while he is in London and has said this will be his last Olympic Games, and if it is, the judo world will miss his amazing photos. Lou has left a mountain of memories captured on film. Even though Lou has given us some of the best judo action that exist, I will be most grateful for the interest he has taken in my girls, Dani & Randi, and the thousands of pictures he has already taken

Categories: -Sports-

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