Angelica Delgado (white) competing against Tsolmon Adiyasambuu (blue) during the women's 52kg elimination round Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
I know you would have loved to be with me at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. You would have been cheering from the stands in Spanish, along with mom most likely having a heart attack while you hold her down to her seat. However, due to the COVID-19 virus and this global pandemic, spectators will not be allowed to enter Tokyo.
This day has been as much your dream as it has been mine. You fled Cuba in the 1980s in search of political and religious freedom. One of the only material possessions you brought with you from the island was an old tattered Judogi, or judo uniform. I still remember the smell of the old Judogi when I first came upon it at eight years old. I begged you to tell me the story of how you began judo in Cuba and how your mother took you to your very first lesson. As you began teaching me the basics of judo in our very own backyard, you taught me my very first lesson: how to break fall.
The first thing you learn in judo is to break falls, so when your partner or opponent is throwing you, you do not get hurt. You learn how to take a fall and get right back up. Throughout my entire life and career, I have been falling and getting right back up. When I was about 15 years old and just beginning high school, I began competing internationally in Europe.
The task of competing on foreign soil for the first time with just my teammates and coach was daunting. I failed over and over again to just make it past the first round. I fell. It was heartbreaking seeing my teammates do better than I had on the international stage. I questioned myself and the singular dream I had of becoming Olympic champion. However, you taught me that failure is only part of the process when you are trying to accomplish something great. I got back up.