Re-printed with the permission of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald
City's Smith takes a crack at nationals
By RANDY PALMER
Times-Herald Sports Reporter
When Brian Smith took up judo in the fall of 1997, he admits he had no idea where he would be in the sport or how far hed come in a mere two-and-a-half years.

And he certainly didnt expect this.

Smith, 16, will represent Saskatchewan at the national junior judo championships in Lethbridge this weekend, capping what has been a meteoric rise to the top of provincial competition.

Hes well ahead of schedule, especially what we expected of him at this stage of his judo, said Kosiekan sensei Cliff Wiens. It usually takes someone four years to get to where he is now, just to have the ability to compete at a national championship, so hes about two years ahead. Its very rare to see someone get to this level this quickly.

Smith took up the sport after members of the club did a demonstration at Peacock Collegiate. His older brothers Mark and Blair had been involved in judo so it seemed like a natural progression. I just started coming out and got into it and I found I liked fighting and competing, he said. It was right after the Winter Games and people were telling me about fighting at that level, so that kind of became my goal. Then I heard about nationals . . .

And it was about that time Smith began taking judo veryseriously. He has an incredible work ethic, Wiens said. It doesnt matter how hard we work, its never enough for him. He always wants to keep going and thats a big reason why he reached this level so quickly.

Smiths national dreams came to fruition over the span of one weekend in early February Saskatchewan high performance coach Ewan Beaton informed Smith he had been selected to the provincial team at a tournament in Swift Current and he was promoted to the rank of blue belt by Beaton later that week.

Thats when it hit me that I was going to nationals, and Ive been on a high for the last month, Smith said with a laugh. Its something Ive worked hard for. I never missed a tournament, I never missed a team training, but I still didnt expect it at all.

The honour came as little surprise to Wiens, though.

I thought he had a chance at it, if not this year then definitely next year, he said. Hes come a long way in a very, very short time.

As one might expect for a 16-year-old fighting in a 20-and-under tournament, this first nationals experience is going to be a learning experience for Smith, fighting in the ultra-competitive under-90 kilogram class, and thats how hes approaching it.

If I could medal, that would be incredible but Im just going to go there and fight to the best of my ability and see what happens, he said. Im going to learn so much and its all going to help me when I get back there in the future.

Wiens himself a former four-time national competitor sees a definite pattern in Smiths future.

Brian will gain experience this year, hell make his presence known next year and hell be a force to be reckoned with after that, he said. The level of competition is going to be incredible, unlike anything hes seen in the past, but its going to do nothing but help him along. It wouldnt surprise me to see him as one of the best juniors in Canada in a couple years.

For all the success hes had so far, though, Smith remains loyal to his roots.

I have to give a lot of credit to the club, everyone has done so much to help me get ready for this, he said. If I didnt have these kind of people to work with, Id never have made it this far.

Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Mar 24, 2000

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