Re-printed with the permission of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald
Large South West team to contend for judo medals
Bringing athletes together from across the South West district can be a challenge for teams preparing for the Saskatchewan Winter Games.

That is less of a problem for the area's judo team.

Moose Jaw athletes have claimed 20 of the 23 spots on the team for the Games.

"Twenty are from our club which is really good and it shows well for our club," said South West judo manager Kailey Large, who is also a local judo coach.

Because of a large representation from the local Koseikan Judo Club, Large and coach Garth Rivers have a lot of familiarity with their team.

"We know what they use, what they don't use, how they fight - those sorts of things. That really helps," said Large. "Knowing our kids is going to be a huge advantage in the tournament for sure."

Pense also has two competitors on the team and Swift Current has one and those athletes have travelled to Moose Jaw to train as well.

"We've had a couple of practices with our whole team so we can get to know the other kids from the other clubs a little bit better so we can help them out for the Games," said Large.

The age range for competitors is 11 to 15 year olds. Most of the South West team is between 11 and 13, but Large expects there to be quite a few younger competitors.

"I don't think it's going to be a disadvantage but I think they'll see some competitors they haven't fought before because of the wider age range," said Large. "It will be good for our kids to some different competitors."

That larger age range makes predictions a little more difficult, but the Koseikan tends to well at other tournaments and Large expects being at home will help them as well.

The team was chosen after a tournament in January. The South West were also able to earn some 'fill' spots. If a zone doesn't have an athlete available for a specific weight class, another zone that has more than one athlete for that weight can earn the right to fill that spot and have more than one athlete per weight class.

"We got to pick up a few extra athletes that way," said Large. "It gives more of an opportunity for some of the kids."

The Games judo tournament will be unique. Wednesday will feature a skills competition where the competitors will be judged on four throws with medals be awarded for the best technical competitors.

"It's something new this year," said Large. "I've never competed in a skills competition, so I don't even really know what to expect."

Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald February 9, 2010

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