Chas Betts: Olympic experience was ‘mind blowing’

by Aaron Brom

ECM Sun Publishers

Carrying the weight of the St. Michael-Albertville community — and the United States — on his shoulders, wrestler Chas Betts of St. Michael won his first Olympic match but lost in his second.

Chas Betts (file photo)

The loss ended any gold-medal hopes for Betts wrestling at 84 kilograms (185 pounds), but in an interview after the match, Betts said he has no regrets.

“It’s been absolutely awesome,” he said. “I mean there’s not one regret in my entire career at this point. I’m happy to be here. It’s as mind blowing as everyone says it is. It is such an experience, without a doubt it’s going to be with me my entire life.”

Betts’ day Monday, Aug. 6, began when he dominated Keitani Graham of Micronesia.

“It started out pretty well,” he said. “I knew the guy I drew was fairly inexperienced as far as big international competition. I was looking to get a good burn in and make a nice move and get the crowd riled up, have some fun out there the first match.”

In the second match, Betts faced an opponent, Pablo Shorey Hernandez of Cuba, who beat Betts at the Pan Am Games. He ultimately lost again to Hernandez, and when Hernandez was upset by Poland’s Damian Janikowski, Betts lost any chance of medal contention.

“The second match I had a Cuban, had a plan going in,” he said. “I stuck to the plan and did what we talked about, and it just didn’t work out for me. I can honestly say I have no regrets about that match.”

Betts said he hasn’t made a decision about his wrestling future. “As far as training, we’ll figure that out soon and come up with a plan.”

The hometown hero had a Facebook message for all his friends and supporters: “No medal today. Rather than talk about how much it breaks my heart, I just want to thank everyone. Anyone who ever sent a good-luck, wished me well, sent a prayer, or even a positive thought my way. It was an honor to represent the country, state, and city. Thank you.”

‘We’re so proud’

Meanwhile, at the Guardian Angels Care Center in Elk River, Betts’ Olympic debut was followed closely.

Melissa Roelike wearing the T-shirt designed by her Olympian brother, wrestler Chas Betts.

Betts’ sister, Melissa Roelike of St. Michael, works as a nurse at the care center and traveled to London to see her brother compete.

Back at the care center, people were excited to hear the results of Betts’ Olympic wrestling matches.

“We felt bad he couldn’t go further, but we’re so proud that he went as far   as he did,” said Ronda Landt, recreation director at the center.

Monday, Aug. 6 — the day Betts competed — was proclaimed Olympics Day at the care center.

Those that had Olympic T-shirts designed by Betts wore them that day, and people were excited to see how he did, Landt said.

“We just had a fun day,” she said.

The care center had marked the Olympics in a number of ways, including incorporating Olympic-themed games into an exercise group that meets three times a week. Landt said the residents loved doing their Olympic games. During the sixth and final Olympic exercises all participants received gold medals, she said.

(Star News Associate Editor Joni Astrup contributed to this report.)