Westfield Judo Star Nick Delpopolo to Compete in Rio Monday

Nick Delpopolo (center) at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies Friday. Credits: Nick Delpopolo
Nick Delpopolo (far left) with fellow USA Olympic athletes in Rio. Credits: Nick Delpopolo

RIO DE JANEIRO — When Westfield native Nick Delpopolo walked through the tunnel at Maracana Stadium on Friday night as a member of the USA Judo team in front of some 80,000 people and billions more watching around the world, it was a mental image that he had been carrying around for the last four years.

“I can’t really say there a lot of moments in my life that would take my breath away,” Delpopolo said. “But walking through the tunnel during the opening ceremonies is indescribable. I wish that there were some way that I can let people go into my mind.”

Delpopolo’s first match is scheduled  for Monday at 10:24 a.m. But this isn't his first Olympics.

Sign Up for E-News

In 2012, Delpopolo was also a member of USA Judo team in the London Games. In that Olympics, he walked next to the stars of USA Basketball in the opening ceremonies so that he could get the most television exposure. While he could be visibly seen entering the games, his exit was out a backdoor, after he was expelled from the games for testing positive for cannabis.

Delpopolo has said that he unintentionally ate a pot brownie before the games at a family party, resulting in the positive test and then the out-of-control negative attention that followed almost drove him out of the sport. But that is not the way he wanted to end his judo career, especially after beating the world No. 3 at the time, Dirk Van Tichelt of Belgium. He would have had an impressive 7th place finish and be in a position to build on this success for Rio. Instead he was forced to leave London before the closing ceremonies with his judo life in shambles. 

Seeking a fresh start, Delpopolo moved to South Florida from Upstate New York, where he had been living and training. He started working with judo trainer Evelio Garcia of the Budokan Judo Club in Opa-locka Florida, who reinfused him with the confidence that he had always known.

“Once I started competing again in 2013, I knew, unless serious injury or illness, that I would get back to this juncture,” Delpopolo said. “It’s a four-year grind. It’s not easy. There is a sense of relief to a degree.  I made the post- season so to speak. Now it’s time to start to go into another gear. It’s exciting.”

His parents, Dominick and Joyce Delpopolo, who still live in Westfield, are in Rio along with his sister, Helen, and his girlfriend, Carrie Chandler (a five-time national champion in the sport).  They will be cheering him on in the 73kg class and continue to provide him with the unwavering support that allowed him to be back for his second chance at an Olympic medal.

“My dream is to win a medal at the Olympics,” said Delpololo. “I know it’s a possibility because the last time I was there, I was so close.”

Delpopolo’s match on Monday will be against Ahmed Goumar of Niger. Click here for live streaming details.

A frequent contributor to TAP into Westfield, Mike Cohen is the founder/director of Throwback Sports (a sports program for children of all abilities) and the sports editor of Education Update. He can be reached at

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


NJ Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for Jerry Green May 7

April 24, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Monday for New Jersey flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on the day of the upcoming General Assembly session, scheduled for May 7, in memory of Assemblyman Jerry Green, former chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, who died last week.

On Thursday, Governor Murphy had said, ...

Thank you, Mayor Brindle and Six Members of Town Council, for Approving 2018 Budget

April 25, 2018

Thank you, Mayor Brindle, and the six members of council, who voted to approve the 2018 budget last night and to Mr. Gildea, Councilwoman Habgood and the finance committee members who worked tirelessly to prepare it. Thank you for the lowest tax increase I can recall while producing a budget that provides for smart investment in our town. 

For most of my residency here, the same ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, April 25, 10:00 AM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Westfield Memorial Library Spring Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, April 25, 12:00 PM

Temple Emanu-El, Westfield

Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Kroloff

Religions And Spirituality


Wed, April 25, 7:30 PM

Rialto NewVision Theater, Westfield

Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ - Ben Gurion: ...

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Police Blotter: Residence Burglarized & More

April 18, 2018

April 11, 2018 10:23 a.m.

Raymond Rodgers, 56, of Westfield, NJ was arrested in the area of E. Broad Street. Rodgers was arrested pursuant to an unrelated traffic investigation. Rogers was transported to Westfield Police HQ without incident. At WPD HQ, Rodgers was processed and released after posting the full bail amount ($250). Rodgers was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Westfield ...

Fairview Celebrates 150 Years

April 25, 2018

The Board of Trustees of Fairview Cemetery invites the public to its 150th Anniversary Celebration on April 29. 

A service commemorating its founding fathers will commence at 2 p.m. followed by food and festivities.  Congressman Leonard Lance will present a US Capital Flag to the Board and Mayor Shelly Brindle will present a special commendation. Renowned soloist Samantha Dango will ...

Ways to Increase Your Home's Equity

Sometimes you forget and don’t realize your home provides so much to your life. It brings along with it your dreams of the future, shelter to you and your family, a way to provide a better lifestyle, a better commute, a neighborhood, schools, community involvement and recreational facilities. But it also provides a way to save for the future. It does this by allowing you to build your ...

Westfield Public Schools Welcomes Community to Auditorium Open Houses

Two years ago, voters in Westfield approved a bond referendum to renovate the aging auditoriums in Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools. Major aspects of the renovations include new seating and flooring, electrical and lighting upgrades, state-of-the-art sound systems, acoustical treatments and air conditioning.

On April 11 and 12, students, staff, families and other members of the ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center


Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...


Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

‘A Sad Day for Paterson’ as Police Officer Loses Life in Car Crash

April 23, 2018

PATERSON, NJ — On what Paterson Superior Officers Association President Mason Maher called “a sad day for Paterson,” a city police officer lost his life on Sunday after he was involved in a motor vehicle collision while on duty.

Several sources familiar with Sunday’s tragic accident have identified the fallen officer as Tamby Yagan, a 13-year veteran of the ...