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Local Olympians receive send-off

Delpopolo, Vashkulat head for London Tuesday

United States Olympic judo team members Kyle Vashkulat, left, and Nick Delpopolo, right, stand with their club coach, former Olympian Jason Morris, at Sunday’s sendoff party at Morris’ judo center in Glenville. Vashkulat and Delpopolo left Tuesday for the start of the Olympic games in London.

United States Olympic judo team members Kyle Vashkulat, left, and Nick Delpopolo, right, stand with their club coach, former Olympian Jason Morris, at Sunday’s sendoff party at Morris’ judo center in Glenville. Vashkulat and Delpopolo left Tuesday for the start of the Olympic games in London. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— Morris corrected that approach in subsequent Olympic trips in 1992 (Barcelona), 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney). And, he said he hopes Delpopolo and Vashkulat will take in as much as they can while in London.

"I told them to stay to the end. Go to a lot of the events, and see as much as you can of the city," said Morris. "This might be your only trip there."

Delpopolo and Vashkulat will see as much of the Olympics as possible together. Not only are they traveling to London on the same flight, but they are also rooming together at the Olympic Village.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," said Delpopolo, who travels and rooms with Vashkulat at other judo competitions. "He's my bigger, younger brother, if that makes any sense. I'm two years older than him, and he's bigger than me."

Recently, the two JMJC students have been spending time training with the rest of the five-person U.S. Olympic team at coach Jimmy Pedro's dojo outside Boston.

"We had a great camp in Boston," said Vashkulat. "I wouldn't say the practices got more intense. We just worked on specific things while we were there."

"The last two or three weeks, every practice has been hard for me to get through because I beat myself up so much (in competitions)," said Delpopolo. "But the last three or four days, I've tapered off (my training) so I could get my confidence back. I feel like I'm back."

Delpopolo will compete first at the Olympics. His division takes over ExCeL Monday, July 30. Vashkulat's weight class competes three days later on Thursday, Aug. 2. Then, they will have time to see London and the rest of the two-week Olympic games.

"The three days leading up to the Opening Ceremony and then the three days leading up to my competition, I'm all business because that's what I'm there for," said Delpopolo. "After that, I'll do everything else."

"I'll hang out with my parents a lot and see as much of the city as I can," said Vashkulat. "I want to meet every single player possible, too."

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