Friday, August 08, 2008

Across an ocean and over a day: good thoughts for an Olympian

As I wrote in June, my brother has been involved in judo since age 5 and is ranked 3rd in the nation in his weight class. He tried out for the Olympics twice. He missed having a spot on the U.S. team both this year and in 2004 by the skin of his teeth. He was crushed, but he’s a trooper and is handling it well.

However, his long-time girlfriend Sayaka Matsumoto made the Olympic team this year! She’s been in Beijing for a week and has been sending daily e-mails with all kinds of fascinating, behind-the-scenes commentary.

Judo is not a very popular or well known sport here in the USA, but it’s huge in most other parts of the world. If you’ve been following any of the Olympic coverage, you may know that there is a woman from Japan named Ryoko Tani, who is possibly the most famous and decorated woman judoka in history.

Well, Sayaka just learned that she will compete against Ryoko in her first match tonight at midnight eastern time. Her division (48 kg women’s ultra lightweight) is one of the first to compete in the games. The match will be broadcast here live tonight at midnight. The medal rounds will be broadcast on the same site at 6 a.m. on Saturday.

Because Ryoko is so famous, the match also may be rebroadcast on television on Saturday. Judo rarely gets television coverage during the Olympics, so if you happen to see it, give Sayaka a little wave through the TV. She is an absolute doll – exactly the type of woman I'd like to see my daughters grow into: sweet, smart, hard-working, honest, dedicated and tough.

And if you think of it, send a little good karma her way today. She’s going to need it. In her own words from her most recent e-mail message, "I'm very, very excited about the tournament tomorrow, especially since I am fighting Tani first round. What a great way to enjoy my Olympic experience. Ronda told me today, "Tomorrow if the first day of the rest of your life," and its true. Please send me positive thoughts!!"

You've got it, Sayaka. A thousand good thoughts and endless admiration.

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Blogger Amanda said...

I took judo classes one summer when I was about 10. So cool! Will send good thoughts!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

That's so exciting! I love rooting for someone I "know."

1:47 PM  
Blogger ryssee said...

She's up in 4.5 hours! Woohoo!

7:37 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Good luck to her! How did she do?

3:25 PM  

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