A. Delgado Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Angelica Delgado and judo’s never-ending fight for mainstream acceptance at the Olympics in 2021

A. Delgado Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Angelica Delgado sweated the first drops of her fighter’s story in a backyard dojo years before she made Team USA in 52-kg judo at the Tokyo Olympics.

A. Delgado Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

The warm Miami sun was where her father first showed her how to break a fall.

Judo has now come full circle and is once again practising in its traditional homeland. The sport made its Olympic debut in 1964 in Tokyo. The proverbial “sword in the stone” for a judoka is to compete in Japan.

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Totally get it from Where you’re Coming from.

I remember having to explain our family’s martial arts business to people because I grew up in a field that doesn’t get much attention, except for the “judo chop” scene in Austin Powers.

Often times, I would inadvisablely demonstrate impromptu moves on the most unsuitable surfaces while earnestly dissecting the principles of judo, which include wrestling and jiu-jitsu.

I’d tell you about the hardships I went through at my dad’s Mr. Miyagi–style dojo in Connecticut. When I’d dragged friends to class, they’d look exhausted after two hours of body-hardening falls and throws, and they never came back.

What could I say?

After all, not many people can sympathise with the dedication and difficulty of a judoka.

Why would someone put on a canvas kimono that will leave rug burns that will last for generations, only to engage in a savage game of physical chess that will require them to shrug off cauliflower ear and put off knee surgery against their doctor’s orders?

That Judo is so Difficult might be one of the Sport’s Enticing Features.

Stupid me. I assumed everybody else would appreciate judo the way I do, the way Angelica Delgado does.

Delgado, who competed in the Olympics for the first time in Rio, is an excellent fighter, but she has to work to get any attention or sponsorships because she doesn’t have a large fan base in the United States.

It’s no secret that martial artists have been portrayed negatively in media since long before Daniel LaRusso made “the crane” famous in The Karate Kid. The judo community is no exception, often guilty of presenting a stereotypically modest version in the hopes that outsiders will identify with it.

Delgado did not visit this place for those reasons. She’s here to win, and she’s not the only one. Along with Delgado, three other American athletes will be competing in Tokyo for medals: Nefeli Papadakis, Nina Cutro Kelly, and Colton Brown.

Ignorant of them? You should, Actually.

In spite of its lack of popularity in the United States, judo is undoubtedly the most successful Olympic sport exported from Japan. Delgado is a hit in this area.

The judo term for a knockout, “ippon,” is well known, and she says it with pride. “Respect is present because they recognise the effort required to become a judoka.”

This Effort has been in the Works for Quite some Time.

The Tokyo Grand Slam has been on her radar ever since she was a young girl. Delgado was immersed in judo while his peers watched cartoons.

Without the support of the crowd, she says, this Olympic experience just isn’t the same. And her father, Miguel Delgado, is thousands of miles away, pulling for his 30-year-old daughter at the famed Nippon Budokan, where she is competing.

Training time was lost for several athletes due to the panic and lockdown. Despite setbacks, Delgado maintained his upbeat attitude.

They eventually did, she said. “In fact, I began training when I was 8 years old and haven’t stopped since. Several months is not enough time for me to give up.”

The wait time has been brought up in Conversation with Delgado.

She had a 1–2 record in Tokyo, failing to earn a medal. A total of twenty-one years of preparation were boiled down to a mere five minutes.

With all that has been invested, she must reconsider how much she truly cares about the sport.

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Do we Really want to know Whether it was all for Nothing?

She wrote him a letter not too long ago in which she thanked him for all the effort he had put into helping her succeed.

She paid tribute to her first instructor, a girl who taught her when she was 8 and broke her fall in the backyard and is now a two-time Olympian by saying, “I vow if I fall, I’ll get straight back up.”

I recall losing to Delgado long before she became a global superstar. For me, and I think for most judoka, that setback is part and parcel of our obligation to find purpose in the fight, an endeavour rarely given up.