The draws are out.
Unlike every other judo event on the circuit, the Olympic Games holds the judo draw a couple days before the competition. This, of course, can be a nice advantage to make a solid game plan and tweak it for a few days before you have to step on the mat.
The top eight on the world ranking list have been seeded. Jason Morris Judo Center’s Nick Delpopolo, 23, who competes Monday 30 in the 73kg division, has a bye in the first round, then will face Chi Yip Cheung of Hong Kong in the second round.
If Delpopolo advances, he will square off against Dirk Van Tichelt of Belgium, who comes in as the eighth seed. Van Tichelt is a quality European player who has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the world. The last meeting between Delpopolo and Van Tichelt was two years ago at the Miami World Cup which went the Belgian’s way in a tight battle.
If Delpopolo can get past Van Tichelt, he could face No.1 seed Ki Chun Wang of Korea in the quarters. Wang and Delpopolo’s last match was a thriller in the quarters of the French Open in early February, with Wang squeaking out the win in the closing minute. Wang is not guaranteed a spot in the quarters as he faces a prickly draw with some stiff competition. Wang is up against Nugzar Tatalshvili of Georgia the opening round, which can potentially be very tough. Wang then could face two more tough customers — Rinat Ibragimov of Kazikstan and Jaromir Jezek of the Czech Republic — before a possible showdown with Delpopolo.
Nick is very familiar with the opponents he must knock off to reach the semis, so I am comfortable with his mindset going into those bouts.
Jason Morris Judo Center’s Kyle Vashkulat faces the No. 4 seed in his opening round in 100kg, and I will go into more detail on that in my next entry. You can following draws on ippon.org, and get more info on judo and the Jason Morris Judo Center at realjudo.net.