Judokas from the Borderland Judo Club have just returned from the Inner City Judo tournament in Winnipeg this past weekend, Saturday, February 4, bringing back a boatload of medals and making sensei Gordon Witherspoon and Randy Ball very proud.
The tournament consisted of judo clubs from all over Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Representing Fort Frances at the tournament were 14 juniors and three seniors.
“They did fantastic,” said sensei Witherspoon. “Their performance off of the mat was just as impressive as their performance on the mat. They did us proud. We returned with a boatload of medals which means they’ve now set the bar fairly high for their next outing.”
Two of the many young competitors who came home with a shiny new medal spoke about their experience and thanked their senseis for their guidance and training.
Paxten Hughes won a gold medal in the U14 age group, +66kg weight division. Despite being very nervous for the first match, the last three matches went by like a breeze. Reminding himself that all that matters is trying your best helped keep the nerves at bay, he said.
“I was just thinking, ‘it’s not bad if I get last or first, as long as I try hard and do the best that I can.”
Hughes has been in Judo for two years now. He enjoyed traveling out of province with friends for the Winnipeg tournament and plans to continue going to tournaments.
“I definitely encourage others to try Judo. It’s really fun,” Hughes said.
Greyson Wright, 13, won third place in the U14, -42 kg weight division. It was his first year of judo and his first competition. He said the gym where the tournament took place felt small when packed with multiple matches and judokas from across the province.
“There were so many people in the crowd,” Wright said. “There’s a good amount of people doing judo, but there was so many people watching it was hard to walk around.”
Wright competed in three fights in total. He said it was a different experience than what he was used to at his home Dojo, but that he wasn’t really nervous. Training from senseis Witherspoon and Ball helped prepare him well, he said.
“The first fight it was really tough because I did not expect that the kid really wanted to win. And it’s a lot more calm at the Dojo, so I just didn’t expect it. You could tell he wanted to win. He was going as hard as he could and I didn’t expect it. Yeah, I wasn’t that nervous, but the first fight I was pretty nervous,” he said.
Wright attributes his success to sensei Witherspoon and sensei Ball and their training.
“It’s pretty hard to throw people because they don’t really let you throw them. So you kind of gotta get them off balance,” he said. “The training definitely helped a lot. Because I wouldn’t know anything, but it definitely helped a lot in the tournament. Like the tricks and the things that I learned.”
Most of all, Wright liked watching high caliber judokas spar against each other. “It looked tiring,” he said, adding that he felt inspired at the tournament and happy being alongside his friends.
“It’s fun to spend time with my friends. And it’s kind of just fun to see what it’s like. Like the black belts fighting; that was pretty cool, because it was like ninjas. But it was just a fun memory to be with my friends and just kind of watch.”