Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Demetrius Andrade Confident He Will Bring Home The Gold

Here is the lastest article on Demetrius Andrade, via the Providence Journal :

“It’s crazy. I can’t wait until this is over,” Sherly Garcia says shortly after hanging up the phone with her boyfriend.

It is about noon yesterday, and she is at the couple’s home in Providence, where young daughter Autumn Andrade squeals gleefully in the background.

Meanwhile, her boyfriend — U.S. Olympic boxer Demetrius Andrade — is on the other side of the world in Beijing, where it has just struck midnight and he is preparing to get some shuteye at the Olympic Village.

For nearly a year, the telephone has served as Garcia and Andrade’s lifeline — first while the 20-year-old boxer trained for 10 months at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and now as the 6-foot-1, 152-pound Providence native attempts to capture a gold medal.

“Oh God. I do not want to see that phone bill,” says Garcia, who has spoken to Andrade daily, sometimes twice daily, since he arrived in Beijing. And when they haven’t been able to catch up with each other on the phone, they’ve exchanged text messages. Lots of text messages.

Garcia had planned to travel to Beijing to be with Andrade while he fights in the Olympics, but says the plans just got too complicated. With Autumn about to turn 2 on Tuesday, Garcia and Andrade didn’t think it would be right for both of them to be away from their daughter on her birthday.

It’s hard to be apart from Andrade, says Garcia, 21, who first met her boyfriend while they were attending Providence’s Health and Science Technology Academy high school.

She and her daughter flew out to Colorado for a week or two here and there while he was training with the U.S. Boxing team. They also flew to Chicago to see him fight at the 2007 AIBA World Championships, where he beat Non Boonjumnong of Thailand in the finals, and to Houston to see him fight at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, where he earned a spot on the team with victories over David Lopez, Charles Hatley and Keith Thurman.

“It wasn’t home, but at least we were together,” said Garcia. “When he left [for Colorado], [Autumn] was really just a baby. I don’t want her to lose that connection with him because you know how little kids are when they don’t see someone for a long time. So I put pictures of him all over the place, and now she talks to him on the phone. When she sees him on TV, oh God, she goes crazy and starts yelling, ‘Daddy! Daddy!’ ”

When asked if Andrade’s spirits are high, Garcia quickly responds with an “Oh, yes! His spirits seem great,” adding that there’s something different about his attitude lately.

“That’s the thing about Boo Boo,” she said, referring to Andrade by his nickname. “He’s really focused. His confidence is up there. His attitude toward fights is always pretty much the same: he talks about what he’s going to have to do and no matter what, he always says he’s going to come out winning. But this is different now. This is the real deal. And his attitude is, ‘No one can tell me anything. No one can tell me different. It’s mine and that’s it. I’m getting it and I’m coming home.’  ”

Indeed, there wasn’t even a hint of hesitation in Andrade’s voice when reached by phone yesterday. Describing himself as being “in the best shape I can be in right now,” he says he feels fully recovered from his first-round bout against Kakhaber Jvania of Georgia, which Andrade won in a four-round decision on Sunday at the Workers’ Indoor Arena.

“I feel it every day and every night before I go to bed,” Andrade said of his quest to become the first U.S. welterweight to win the gold since Mark Breland at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. “I’m just driving and driving until I get there.”

Andrade fought the next opponent he will face, Andrey Balanov, once before, losing to the Russian on points, 35-17, at the 2005 World Cup. That was a long time ago, though, Andrade says. He was just 16 at the time and much has changed since then.

“I’m just going to give him a beating,” Andrade said quite matter-of-factly. “He’s not stronger than me. He’s not quicker than me. He’s not smarter than me. I’m going to do whatever I want to do.” Andrade fights Balanov tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. (EST).

Like Garcia, David Keefe will also be watching Andrade compete from afar. Although he has served as Andrade’s co-coach along with Demetrius’ father, Paul, since Andrade was 10, Keefe technically cannot train Andrade while he is with the Olympic team. He had considered making the trip to Beijing anyway, but thought he would probably feel more helpless if he were actually at the arena and couldn’t coach.

He has stayed in touch with Andrade and his father by phone, though. And given what a number of delegations have already criticized as questionable judging by boxing officials at these Games, Keefe’s number-one piece of advice to Andrade is to make sure he “leaves nothing up to chance.”

“[U.S. flyweight] Rau’shee Warren just lost [yesterday] by a point. We’re not going to let that happen,” said Keefe, 29, a former amateur fighter from Pawtucket. “We’re going to try not to leave it up to the judges. We’re just going to go for it. Paul and myself have the attitude that we’re not happy just to be there. We’re going to go for the whole thing. That’s the goal, not just to represent our country. That’s great. That is nice, but we want to bring a gold medal back to Providence.”

And while Andrade continues to strive for that goal, Garcia’s eyes will be glued to the television and her hand will be glued to her phone.

“We waited for this for so long and he’s there and I can’t wait for this to end,” she said. “It’s like a whole year preparing for all this and now it’s here and it’s crazy.”

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