Big decision for judo teen

Judo teens Tristan Alexander and Brennan Jolley are on a path to the 2015 Canada Games

Fourteen-year-olds Tristan Alexander and Brennan Jolley with Victoria Judo Club instructor Ken Jolley in back. Ken

For-14-year-old Tristan Alexander, the decision process has begun.

The Oak Bay High student is in Grade 9 and is a whopping 6-foot-5, 262 lbs. He is captain of his hockey team, the bantam AAA Racquet Club Kings, and has taken up basketball with the Bays’ junior team.

Football wants him too, with coaches clamouring to put him on the offensive line. But the only thing that could pry Alexander away from hockey is judo, and vice versa.

“I love hockey a lot but I also love judo, which makes it hard,” Alexander said. “If I could fit judo into my hockey schedule that would make it easier, but it’s not easy.

“I have to admit trying football would be great, I’ve never played and I’d love to give it a shot. Its intensity and grappling would compliment judo nicely. But I’d have to do it out of school.”

Alexander happens to be one of two extremely gifted judokas training out of the Victoria Judo Club in the Burnside Gorge Community Centre.

The other is Brennan Jolley, a Reynolds secondary student. Jolley is also 14, also in Grade 9.

He has his sights on getting his black belt by the time he’s 17, and any decision process Jolley might have gone through over which sport he would focus on happened a long time ago.

“I’ve been doing judo since I was seven and it’s my only sport,” Jolley said.

“I like it, competitions I get pretty nervous, but after I’m okay.”

Nervous maybe, but not enough to compromise his abilities or execution.

At the recent Saskatchewan Open, Jolley and Alexander each won gold in their respective under-18 weight divisions, Jolley at sub-60 kgs and Alexander at 90 kgs.

Each of them won three straight, with Alexander winning all three by the 45 second mark.

Obviously it’s Alexander’s size and age combination that makes him a desired commodity for coaches of team sports. Jolley, meanwhile, sizes up with the more average 14 year old males, at about 5-foot-7 and 123 lbs.

Needless to say, at half Alexander’s size, Jolley does his sparring with other members of the club.

Because of their recent success the two are now in the running to compete for Team B.C. at the 2015 Canada Games. Like Jolley, Alexander wants to compete for Team B.C. and will have to decide if he can fit in any other sports.

Both won gold at last year’s Edmonton International in the U15 category and gold at the 2012 B.C. Winter Games in Vernon, although there wasn’t much competition for Alexander.

“Not a lot of guys my size are 14,” he said.

The two will compete at nationals in Vancouver in early July. Jolley is looking to improve on his fifth-place finish from 2012, while Alexander was third.

sports@vicnews.com

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