After I wrote about Ric Blas Jr., the Guam Olympian competing in judo, long-time reader and friend Messiah told me that Blas is the new Kevin Pittsnogle of Sean’s Ramblings (search Pittsnogle on this site to see how much I wrote about him in the early days of this blog). Therefore, as the unofficial blog of Blas, I thought I would share some updates about his experiences in Beijing.
Blas will face Lasha Gujejiani of Georgia sometime late Friday afternoon in the Men's Heavyweight (100+kg/220+ lbs) preliminaries. A commenter in my original post wrote that his match will take place at 9pm PST, but I have not been able to verify this anywhere else online. I really hate rooting against a Georgian athlete since the country is at war, but I’m still pulling for Ric.
According to the Pacific Daily News, which states that although NBC broadcasters at the Opening Ceremonies cited Blas as the heaviest competitor at the Games at 399 pounds, Blas is actually 440 pounds, both competitors are the same height, but Gujejiani weighs 220 pounds. Just because Blas is double the weight of his opponent, he says being heavier doesn’t matter.
"Based on experience, skill and how much you want it, it's not that difficult to throw someone much heavier than you. Judo was created for that very reason and in the beginning, there were no weight classes," said Blas. "We have all qualified and earned our way here, so we'll just have to see what happens. I've been training hard and doing my best to condition. Win or lose, I have done my best to prepare for this."
Blas talks about his experiences as Guam’s flag-bearer and walking into the stadium.
"It was an awesome experience. When we walked through that tunnel into the stadium, I saw more people in one place than I've ever seen in my life," Blas said. "My first thoughts were 'Could this really be?' I was shocked. I just wanted to wave that Guam flag high and smile. The world was watching."
Did you know that Blas, the Oceania Games super-heavyweight judo champion, has sacrificed every summer during the past eight years to go off island (Guam) for training? He even lived in Japan for a year in high school to focus on judo. Well, now you know.
Although there is not a bio of Blas on either the Yahoo or NBC Olympic websites, the latter does include a brief video showing Blas in action.
Update 8/14: There's more coverage of Ric Blas on this blog here and here.