Cuban Ronald Girones (Blue) struggles with the US Michael Eldred in the men’s Judo -73kg bronze medal fight, during the Guadalajara 2011 XVI Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, on October 28, 2011. Gorones won a bronze medal. (RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NOTE: This event will be streamed live and free on our homepage at 2pm ET/11am PT Saturday, May 12th.
MIAMI – May 8, 2012 — The World Cup Miami and back-to-back U.S. Open this weekend are the setting for the “Hour of Power,” a fight-off between Nick Delpopolo, 73 kg (NYAC/Jason Morris Judo, Scotia, NY), and Michael Eldred, 73 kg (Western Idaho Judo Institute, Fruitland, ID) for the last undecided spot on the U.S. Olympic Judo Team.
Both Delpopolo and Eldred qualified for the team but Olympic rules allow each nation to send but one judo fighter per division. USA Judo created the Hour of Power to make that decision. Delpopolo is ranked higher internationally, so if he wins one match, he gets the spot on the team. If Eldred wins the first match, they go two-out-of-three. Each match is five minutes with a three-minute golden-score overtime.
“This is the definition of intense,” said Jose H. Rodriguez, USA Judo’s CEO, “a fight for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Judo Team.” The Hour of Power is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, May 12, at the Doral Resort and Spa.
The winner will join the nation’s finest in the sport, athletes who already have locked their positions:
Kayla Harrison, 78 kg (NYAC/Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.), World Champion and favorite to take gold for the United States at the Olympics this summer … she would be the nation’s first to win Olympic gold in the sport.
Travis Stevens, 81 kg (NYAC/Team FORCE, Wakefield, Mass.) is also expected to take a medal, having climbed the podium to take gold last year at the super competitive Dusseldorf Grand Prix, on a tier of tournaments immediately below the Olympics and World Championships.
Marti Malloy, 57 kg (USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University, CA), has been on a steep trajectory toward that podium in London, climbing from 18th in the world last year to 9th currently. USA Judo expects her to medal.
Kyle Vashkulat, 100 kg (NYAC/Jason Morris Judo, Scotia, NY) qualifies with experience and medals beyond his age as one of the youngest members of the team at 21.