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Creston Judo Club goes to BC Winter Games

The young athletes came home proud of their personal successes
The Creston athletes who participated in the BC Winter Games are celebrating their personal successes. (Submitted)

By Laura Knudsen, Head Sensei

“Tiny and Mighty” is the new team cheer for the Kootenay Zone 1 BC Winter Games Judo team.

With only 4 kids from our zone qualifying to compete in this years make-up games, our team spirit vastly exceeded our team numbers. And after an untimely concussion injury to our valued team mate Thomas Saby, this small team got a little smaller.

Elisha Moore represented our only true U16 competitor for the team. Tiang Tanapima and Kaitlyn Sandoval had to do extra work to show they were both ready to qualify as U16 early bloomers, meaning they were up against much older and more experienced athletes all weekend.

A hard loss on the first day of tournament saw this Zone 1 team leaving the mats without any medals, but we chose to celebrate what we did right. Tanapima’s endurance was monumental in his matches. He kept the fights going almost a full three minutes while trying to achieve his own points. And even though he didn’t succeed he made his opponents work hard for the points they did get. Sandoval somewhat unexpectedly moved into a new fighting category due to a growth spurt that just wouldn’t wait. Even with this she held her own while trying to navigate and learn on the fly how to set up her fight plans with these brand new competitors. Moore had so many personal successes in her matches from achieving dominant grips and strong turnovers, but they just fell a bit short on day one.

On the second day, these underdogs shook off the jitters and came back fresh for the fight in team events. Using a few athletes from other zones to round out our team numbers, we rallied together with our new friends and made it all the way to the bronze medal match, where we came up with a tie for third place. This required a tie-breaking match where Sandoval had the opportunity to represent her team for the tie breaker. Her half point win came as such a surprise that the referee had to assure her three times that she had won before it truly sunk in! The team went on to celebrate together. We already have a plan for next year’s official 2024 BC Winter Games in Quesnel, B.C.

The judokas representing Kootenay Zone 1. (Submitted)
The judokas representing Kootenay Zone 1. (Submitted)

It was my absolute privilege to be the head coach for Kootenay Zone 1 Judo at this event, but as with all things we don’t succeed on our own. I would like to thank a few key people for stepping up and out of there comfort zones to make this possible for the kids: Tara Sandoval for being the Zone 1 admin rep and keeping us organized and on top of the mountains of paperwork needed to co-ordinate this event. Taupas Tanapima for taking on the role of male chaperone and my assistant. Our training partners at our local Creston Judo Club and throughout the Kootenays - all the training hours you gave to these competitors to help them achieve this goal was invaluable. And the families for blissfully following me as I trucked your kids across our province and Alberta, so they could have as much exposure to other athletes as possible.

And finally the Creston Judo Club would like to thank from the very bottom of our hearts the corporate sponsors who gave to help ease the financial burden for training and tournaments for all of our athletes: Creston & District Credit Union, Pealows Independent Grocer, Creston Valley Funeral Services, Kokanee Ford, J.H. Huscroft Ltd., The Wee Grill, The Mallory Restaurant, Mayday Electric, Mann & Vander Heide Notary, and Grant Campbell Realty.

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