Monday, November 15, 2010

JUDO; Pedro digs heavy medal; Mass. native brings home 73 kg bronze.(Sports).

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ATHENS - At about 11 a.m. yesterday, the phone rang at American judo star Jimmy Pedro's Methuen home. A few seconds later, it's safe to assume, there were some serious screams of joy.

Pedro and his wife, Marie, you see, have this tradition. While Jimmy is off fighting, Marie - at home caring for the couple's three children, Casey, A.J. and Ricky - carefully avoids learning how her husband's match has gone. Marie leaves it to Jimmy to phone with the news.

Whether the news is good or bad, she gets it directly from him, no one else.

Yesterday's call home from her husband delivered exceedingly good news.

Capping a remarkable comeback following two years in retirement after the 2000 Sydney Games, at the advanced age of 33, Pedro won a bronze medal in the 73-kilo class at Ano Liossia Hall. The performance matched a third-place finish at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"Words can't describe how awesome, incredible and fulfilling this day was for me," said Pedro, moments after pinning France's Daniel Fernandes in their bronze-medal match. "This is what I compete for. Everything I wished for happened today. Obviously, I'd love to win a gold medal. In Atlanta I said that bronze was as good as gold, but I'll tell you: This one means even more. In Atlanta I was 25 and I was supposed to win; now I'm 33 and decided to make a comeback to give it one last try at fulfilling my dream to be Olympic champion.

"Well, I may not have won gold. But I'm the first American judo player to medal twice in (Olympic) games. That's a special thing."

The final snapshot of Pedro's illustrious judo career - and he vowed he really, truly will not be coming back in 2008 - was a thing of beauty. Already leading the Frenchman on the scoreboard, Pedro quickly and decisively countered an offensive move by Fernandes and in the blink of an eye had his opponent wrapped up as tightly as a mouse being squeezed to death by a python.

Even before the 25 seconds necessary to score a pin had elapsed, the helpless Fernandes reached up and patted Pedro's back - conceding the match and the medal. Pedro then leaped into the arms of coach Bob Berland, before climbing the front of the stands to hug his dad and coach, Jimmy Sr., and his kid brother and training partner, Michael.

Before Pedro rushed off to make that all-important phone call to his wife, the loquacious Brown University graduate talked about his comeback and his final day of competition.

"I could have stayed home and sat behind my desk at," Pedro said. "Instead, I decided to come back and give it one last shot. I knew I had it in me to still win. I knew I was still good enough to contend with the best in the world. I proved that, whether I won the gold or not.

"To get that bronze medal, I had to fight every single moment of this day."

Indeed, Pedro faced seven fights yesterday, and won every one except the third, a loss to defending world champion Won Hee Lee that knocked Pedro out of contention for the gold or silver. To get to the bronze-medal matchup, Pedro had to win four more times, including a sudden-death overtime squeaker against Anatoly Laryukov of Belarus.

In his bronze medal game, Pedro faced the No. 2-ranked man in the world in Fernandes.

"I'm as strong at the end of a fight as I am at the beginning," said Pedro. "A lot of these European guys are super strong at the beginning, but then they start to fade. I'm not going to be the strongest guy in my division, but I guarantee at the end of a match I'm going to be stronger than anyone else. Knowing that, he started to fade a little bit. His strength didn't seem to be what it was at the start of the match. I've made a career out of wearing people down and waiting for that right moment.

"The way I finished my career is really icing on the cake. I leave with a win."

And then he headed off to tell his wife all about it.

Caption: COMEBACK KID: Jimmy Pedro, 33, rejoices after pinning France's Daniel Fernandes to win the bronze medal in judo yesterday in Athens. AP PHOTO

Caption: SHOWING SOME MEDAL: Jimmy Pedro kisses the bronze medal that he won in the 73-kilo judo competition yesterday in Athens. AP PHOTO

Source Citation
Harris, Stephen. "JUDO; Pedro digs heavy medal; Mass. native brings home 73 kg bronze." Boston Herald 17 Aug. 2004: 72. Student Edition. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
Document URL

Gale Document Number:CJ120787859

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