The summer Olympics are just a few days away.
The Pioneer Valley will be represented in Brazil but our local athletes won’t just be suiting up for the red, white, and blue.
“I saw it on TV in the Olympics and I wanted to give it a try,” said Asnage Castelly.
That effort has paid off for Castelly. The 37-year-old, who first came to the United States at the age of nine, will represent his home country of Haiti in this year’s summer Olympics.
It will mark the first time the country has fielded a wrestling team.
“I was the one who started it. I’m the only athlete they’ve ever had that has represented Haiti on the global stage, as far as wrestling is concerned,” Castelly noted.
However, Castelly is used to global competition. He’s wrestled at the world championships and the Pan-American Games.
This time around, Castelly was selected to be the country’s flag-barer for the opening ceremony on Friday night.
“We thought you’d be the ideal person, with what you stand for. Somebody who has sacrificed so much all of these years for the country, your integrity and the type of person you are. You’ll be the flag-barer. I was like ‘wow, i did not see that one coming,” Castelly explained.
Castelly’s co-workers were not as surprised. Not only is he a case-worker for the Center for Human Development, he coaches wrestling at Springfield Technical Community College.
“He’s committed, he’s dedicated, he’s calm, he’s able to focus on his client work and interact with all of the kids. He’s just an all around good guy,” said Aisha Pizarro, area regional manager for CHD.
CHD will be sharing Castelly’s Olympic trip on their Facebook page throughout the Olympics as he competes in the 163-pound weight class.
As for whether this will be Castelly’s first and last Olympics, he said “I don’t know. If I win the gold medal, I might say this is the last go round. If I don’t, it’s the competitive nature and you always strive to be the best.”
While Haiti has paid for Castelly’s way to Rio, the Olympian has had to go to other fund-raising measures to get some coaches and potentially some family members with him in Brazil.
If you’d like to take part in that fund-raising effort, you can CLICK HERE to visit a GoFundMe page.
Copyright 2016 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. Originally appeared on http://www.westernmassnews.com/story/32601518/western-ma-resident-to-wrestle-for-haiti-in-summer-olympics