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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rene Capo
BornRené Capo
(1961-05-09)May 9, 1961
Pinar del Río, Cuba
DiedJuly 6, 2009(2009-07-06) (aged 48)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Other namesCaposki
Nationality United States
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
UniversityUniversity of Minnesota
Rene Capo
Medal record
Men's Judo
Representing the  United States
High School Nationals
Gold medal – first place 1977 Yale Heavyweight
Gold medal – first place 1979 Rogers Heavyweight
Pacific Rim Championships
Gold medal – first place 1987 Colorado Springs Heavyweight
US Olympic Trials
Gold medal – first place 1988 Colorado Springs Heavyweight
Gold medal – first place 1996 Colorado Springs Heavyweight
United States Senior Nationals
Gold medal – first place 1979 San Francisco Heavyweight
Gold medal – first place 1989 Orlando Heavyweight
Gold medal – first place 1991 Honolulu Heavyweight
Silver medal – second place 1998 Chicago Heavyweight
Bronze medal – third place 2002 Cleveland Heavyweight
Finnish Open
Silver medal – second place 1995 Heavyweight

Rene Capo (May 9, 1961 – July 6, 2009) was a judoka from the United States who competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 1996 Summer Olympics.[1] Capo immigrated to the United States from Cuba as a young boy. Though he won several judo championships in high school, Capo took a four-year break from the sport to attend the University of Minnesota. After college, Capo went on to qualify for two United States Olympics teams, could not compete as an alternate in another due to a back injury, and narrowly missed making the 2008 team. In 2008, Capo was diagnosed with lung cancer, which caused his death the following year.

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Sometimes in sport, as in life, you just have to roll the dice. Renaud Lavillenie of France is competing in the biggest event of his sporting life - the men's pole vault final, at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. And he's gambling everything on one jump. You see, he's currently in the bronze medal position and he's missed his last two attempts. If he makes this one, he'll move into the gold medal position. If he misses, he still comes third. An admirable achievement for most athletes. But then, Lavillenie isn't most athletes. To understand why a man would willingly take a risk in a moment like this, you need to know more about Renaud Lavillenie. Lavillenie likes risk. He likes living on the edge. Not many world-class athletes relax racing motorbikes, but it works for him. The French have a long history of excellence when it comes to Lavillenie's favoured event. Jean Galfione was the second Frenchman to win an Olympic gold medal, with this jump back in 1996. For Lavillenie, pole vault isn't just a French thing, it's a family thing. His father, Gilles Lavillenie, was a vaulter. His brother Valentin also got the vaulting bug at a young age. They never had to have the pole vault explained to them. But for the rest of us, here's a quick guide. The athlete stands at the end of a 40m-long track, carrying a long metal pole wrapped in sheets of fibreglass. They sprint down the track, place the tip of the pole into the launch box. As they jump up, the pole bends dramatically. They attempt to pass over the horizontal bar, releasing the pole. They come back down to Earth onto padded matting, to break their fall. And then, they get up and do it all over again. Most of us would stick to one of life's simpler pursuits, like neurosurgery! I always thought pole vaulting was jumping over Polish people. No, Jan. This was Lavillenie's life, although at 1.77m, he was on the small side for a successful pole vaulter. Attempting to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, young Renaud missed the qualifying distance by 45cm. He did not give up. He doubled his efforts. He even built a full-size pole vault track in his back garden in Clermont-Ferrand. Lavillenie was now targeting London 2012, as his performances steadily improved. In 2009, Lavillenie landed his first major title, jumping 5.81m, to win the European Indoor Championship. And just three months later, he joined the pole vaulters' Six-Metre Club. In just two years, Lavillenie had improved his personal best by over 70cm, to become world number one. But reputations don't win gold medals. At the Olympic Games in London, he was up against a heavyweight. Defending Olympic champion, Steve Hooker of Australia, and the USA's Brad Walker, a former world champion, failed to mount any kind of challenge. As others fell by the wayside, that left just three remaining athletes to fight it out for gold - Lavillenie and two Germans - the youngster Raphael Holzdeppe and veteran, Bjorn Otto. The bar was now raised to 5.91m. Holzdeppe cleared it. Otto cleared it. Lavillenie didn't clear it, which left him a choice. With two more attempts left, he could either try them at this height or he could raise the bar. If he could pull out one big jump, it would put him in sole possession of the top spot and put the pressure on the others. Lavillenie decided to go for it. The bar was raised to 5.97m. Bold, ambitious, unsuccessful. Which brings us back to where we started. Lavillenie - one more shot, one more chance at glory. Everything was riding on this one jump. Oh, my!! The Frenchman has done it! A new Olympic record, at 5.97m. That would have outjumped a T-Rex! Phew! When Otto failed at 6.02, in his final attempt, Lavillenie had won Olympic gold. The two Germans were very strong, so it pushed me to my limits. The limits, indeed. But that's where Lavillenie likes to be. It's a dream. Wow.


Early life

Capo immigrated to the United States from Pinar del Río, Cuba in 1962, when he was still an infant,[2] and grew up in Hialeah, Florida. He learned Judo as a member of Florida Judo Kai, under the tutelage of Cuban Champion Reinaldo Montpellier.[1][3] After graduating from Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School[2] He attended the University of Minnesota, where he played defensive tackle for the Golden Gophers from 1979 to 1982,[4] sharing a team record with four sacks.[1][4]

Judo career

Amateur competition

At the age of six, Capo competed in his first judo competition, and had won his first tournament by nine.[2] By sixteen, he had become a Grandmaster, and won the Judo high school national championship. By the time of his graduation, Capo had earned a national high school gold medal, and won the United States Senior National title. A classmate recalls how, as a 190-pound junior, Capo pinned Lester Williams, then regarded as possibly the top high school athlete in the nation.[2]

Professional career

After a four-year break from Judo in which he focused on football and college, Capo won a gold medal at the 1987 Pacific Rim Championships. A year later, he upset a number of highly ranked heavyweights at the US Judo Olympic Trials.[2] At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Capo finished 19th.[2] Capo qualified as the alternate for the 1992 Summer Olympics, but was unable to compete due to severe neck injury. After having surgery on two vertebrae, he made it to the 1996 Summer Olympics, where he was eliminated the first day. From 2005 to 2007, Capo taught judo at the Jason Morris Judo Center in Glenville.[5] He narrowly missed qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympics,[2] losing to his own student, Kyle Vashkulat.[5] At the 2008 USA Judo Senior National Championships one month later, Capo placed fifth.[6]


In 2008, Capo, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer, from which he died on July 6, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.[2] At the time, he lived in Naperville, Illinois,[6] where he had moved to earn money selling magazine subscriptions to schools.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Associated Press (7 July 2009). "Judo Olympian Capo dies at 48". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Quinones, David (8 July 2009). "Hialeah's Rene Capo, a two-time Olympian and judo champ, dies at 48". The Miami Herald. The McClatchy Company.
  3. ^ "Fallece judoca cubano-estadounidense René Capo". Univision (in Spanish). 7 July 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2009.[dead link]
  4. ^ a b Youngblood, Kent (8 July 2009). "U nose tackle became judo champ". Star Tribune. Avista Capital Partners. Retrieved 9 July 2009.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Singelais, Mark (8 July 2009). "Judo Olympian Capo dies". Times Union. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 9 July 2009.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b Associated Press (7 July 2009). "Latest Florida Sports". WFOR-TV. CBS. Archived from the original on July 17, 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
This page was last edited on 28 September 2019, at 08:31
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