There's something about the softball diamond that brings out the chattiness in people. While taking in the U.S.-Venezuela game at Fengtai Softball Field yesterday, we struck up a conversation with Richard Wyttenbach-Santos, grandfather-in-law of Ric Blas Jr., Guam's flag-bearer in the Opening Ceremonies and one of five Guam athletes in these Games. Blas, a judo wrestler listed at 399 pounds—he weighs 435, according to Wyttenbach-Santos—may be Guam's best chance for its first Olympic medal.
"He's a sweet kid. Modest. Sweet kid," Wyttenbach-Santos said of Blas Jr. "If he got a medal, he would be the best known athlete in Guam for the next generation."
A quick geography review: Guam is a West Pacific island that was handed over by the Spanish in 1898 and officially became a United States colony in 1950. (Wyttenbach-Santos donned a cap that read "GUAM," which he claimed stood for "Give Us American Money".) Guamanians are technically American citizens but cannot vote. The island is self-governing, with a population of about 173,000, but its laws must be approved in D.C.
Ric Blas Sr., was Guam's first Olympic judoka in the 1988 Seoul Games and was one-and-done. Blas Jr., who competes Friday, is aiming higher. "I am going to go there with my heart set on gold," he told the Guam Pacific Daily News.
The proud grandparent he is, Wyttenbach-Santos assured us, "We don't care if [Ric] wins or loses. We don't care if he lasts only half a second. He's an Olympian. That's all that matters."
The softball game ended with the U.S. invoking the mercy rule in an 11-0 win, the most runs scored in Olympic softball history. And as fans filed out, happy to see the U.S. team hadn't lost a beat from Athens, we left with a reason to follow judo.
Let's go Guam!