WESTFIELD, NJ – Helen Delpopolo of Westfield is on her way home from the Sumo World Championship in Osaka, Japan, this weekend. Although the middleweight national champion did not reach her goal of winning the world championship — she took sixth place, she said — she posted on Facebook, “Not bad for my first worlds in 10 years.”
The last time Delpopolo traveled to Japan to compete in the Sumo World Championship, it as 2005 and she was just 12, the youngest athlete to win a national title in the sport. She lost that year in the first round of competition.
"I came out of retirement after 10 years to fight in honor of my two senseis who passed away this year, Yoshisada Yonezuka — the pioneer of Sumo in the US — and Ernesto Labate. I felt there spirit with me in the dohyo. I will continue to keep their legacy alive in the sport of sumo," Delpopolo said.
Many supporters helped finance Delpopolo’s trip through her GoFundMe account.
“I’d like to thank the support from everyone who donated,” Delpopolo said. “This trip wouldn't have been possible without all of you. And a special thank you to the members of BNI Westfield for raising over $1,800 dollars. I may not have medaled this year, but I found the fighter I once lost in myself. When I medal, no matter how many years from now, everyone who helped me find the fighter within will be a product of my success.”