‘I Just Need to Fight Somebody': Miami Native Adjusts Olympic Judo Training in Pandemic

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, now pushed to 2021, put a wrench in the feisty athlete’s plans

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Angelica Delgado yearns for the day she can get back on the mat. 

“I miss it so much. I miss putting on the gi and just sweating and being with my teammates,” said Delgado, a member of USA Judo. 

The athlete says she also needs to get in a fight again.

“My boyfriend does judo as well on the national team so I was telling him, I just need to fight somebody. I need to put on a gi and he was like alright settle down, we’ll go for a run in the morning,” said Delgado. 

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, now pushed to 2021, put a wrench in the feisty athlete’s plans.

“It’s definitely hard. When I first heard the news about the postponement, I thought it was like you know, not the end of the world, but I was a little unmotivated to work out and to keep going,” said Delgado.

Judo, which is often described as a mix of wrestling and jiu jitsu, is a full contact sport and social distancing is virtually impossible. During this pandemic her Dojo training facility in South Florida has been temporarily closed. 

“We’re constantly rubbing up on each other, sweat going in your eyes, in your mouth, everything. It’s extremely hard to keep the regulations and stuff that the CDC has put in place and do Judo,” said Delgado.

While Delgado has been able to keep up with her strength and conditioning, the Miami native says she has been leaning on her Cuban family and hometown for support. 

“My father was on the national team in Cuba. He’s the one that really taught me Judo so it runs in the family and I get it from all sides,” said Delgado, “Even though I travel from January through December for different competitions, I’m always so glad when I step off the plane at Miami International Airport and I hear, ‘Acere! Que bola!’ I’m like, ahhh I’m home.”

Delgado says she started Judo at just nine years old and always dreamt of being on the Olympic stage. She competed in Rio in 2016, recently won a grand slam medal in February and says she is still staying focused on 2021.

“I can’t be unmotivated, you know? It’s always been my dream. Whether the course or the plans have changed, the goal has never changed for me. It’s my life,” said Delgado. 

The plans may have changed, but Delgado’s drive has not.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s postponed. The goal kind of remains the same. I just keep that in the back of my mind always that there’s gonna come a time, it’s gonna happen, I’m gonna be on the mat again. I’m gonna be at the Olympics. It’s just gonna take a little bit more time than I anticipated,” said Delgado.

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