The day we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. Ric Blas Jr.’s Olympic journey has reached its summit, um, how about peak, no, pinnacle (I like that). When I learned that Blas would be competing on Friday afternoon, I figured I might be able to get home from work in time to watch him live. Of course, I didn’t factor in that whole time difference thing. So even though Blas will meet Georgia’s Lasha Gujejiani at 1:06pm, that it 1:06AM here in the Eastern time zone. Although Blas and I have been Facebook friends for what seems like forever (or yesterday) and I’d like to interview him after the Olympics, don’t expect a live blog of judo’s men’s heavyweight division. I mean, I need to wake up by 6:45 to get to work! However, Blas may still be competing when I awake, so hopefully I’ll be able to watch him while eating my Lucky Charms or Honey Nut Cheerios.
I believe that you can watch Blas and all of the Olympic judo matches online at the NBC website.
To get you excited about Blas and his journey thus far, here are some new links:
Jojo Santo Tomas of Guam’s Pacific Daily News has been following Blas and all of Guam’s athletes throughout the Olympics. Here’s an excerpt from his latest article:
"The whole world's on my shoulders right now. It is a lot of pressure. For me to fail ... would be epic," [Blas] said. "So I'm gonna do my best and hopefully the people of Guam can understand that I had done my best to be where I am. I have done nothing but represent the island with all the love that I could ever give. And no matter what the outcome is, I hope that the people of Guam can still find some pride that I went out there and I fought the world's best fighters, and I had them all in mind when I was doing it."
Apparently inspired by my blog, ESPN and The Sydney Morning Herald have finally joined the Blas bandwagon. The SMH (as all of the kids call it) focuses on Blas’ weight:
At 215 kilograms, he is the heaviest athlete in Beijing. Despite undergoing a punishing training regime in past weeks in the hope of reaching the medal dais, the Guam representative has been putting on more weight in the lead-up to Olympic competition.
"I just eat anything really," he said yesterday. "I don't have a special diet, it's just whatever I feel like. I don't have any diet secrets. There's a lot of protein, a lot of beef and a lot of chicken."
There's also a lot of Ric Blas jnr. To put things in perspective, the hefty judoka weighs nearly six times more than Australian diver Melissa Wu.
Meanwhile, ESPN found Richad Wyttenbach-Santos, Blas’ grandfather-in-law. Following the theme I continue to see and hear about Blas, Wyttenback-Santos said, "He's a sweet kid. Modest. Sweet kid. If he got a medal, he would be the best known athlete in Guam for the next generation."
Despite the probability that I’ll be asleep during Blas’ matches, I’ll try to post updates about how Ric performs.
Update 8/15 6:50AM Eastern time
You are able to watch Friday’s judo matches and see the results on this portion of the NBC Olympic website by clicking "rewind."
The Ricardo Blas Jr. match against Georgia's Lasha Gujejiani starts just after the 1:21:30 mark.
My thoughts after watching the match: Within the first few seconds, I realize that I know nothing about judo. From an outsider perspective, it looks like both fighters grab on to their opponents’ uniform and then try to trip them.
With 14 seconds left, the judge decides it’s time for both competitors to re-tie their belts. After this is completed, the judge makes some hand-signals and declares Gujejiani the winner. Did Blas not tie his belt quickly enough? Why did the judge call it with 14 seconds remaining? The NBC graphic shows Gujejiani as winner by Sogo-Gachi. Anyone know what this means?
I believe that this is a double-elimination tournament, so Blas faces Daniel McCormick of the United States in the Repechage Round 2. This match begins at the 3:33:00 mark.
The match seems even relatively even, but Blas tires at the end and McCormick capitalizes by pushing Blas out of the “ring” several times. I don’t understand the scoring system, but I believe that McCormick earns a point for doing this.
McCormick is the winner by Keikoku. Anyone know what this means?
It’s too bad that Blas didn’t win any matches, but I think he definitely represented himself and Guam well.