Throwing for gold: Judo athlete going to Paralympics

Legally blind Victoria Judo Club member Tim Rees is going to the Paralympics

Tim Rees throws a fellow member of the Victoria Judo Club

Some of Tim Rees’ Paralympic judo opponents won’t see him at all.

Others will have better vision than his, which is limited at best, as he’s legally blind.

It won’t matter, he says.

“If we are separated at any time, the match stops and we reset our grip.”

Rees’ level of vision is mostly peripheral. “It will be somewhere in the middle compared to the guys I’m up against.”

Matches start with a hold of each other’s gi to level the field. It’s the only difference between the Olympic and Paralympic judo formats.

“Once you’re in a full grip there’s not much disadvantage to having poor eyes because you can feel where your opponent is moving,” Rees said.

The 32-year-old trains with the Victoria Judo Club out of the Burnside Gorge Community Centre and competes in both formats. Even with his lack of eyesight, which is due to rod cone dystrophy, a rare form of macular degeneration, he still finished fifth at the Canadian nationals in his weight class last month.

But because there aren’t enough visually impaired judo athletes in Canada to populate a national tournament, he had to qualify for the upcoming London Paralympic Games through international tournaments.

He did that with fifth and seventh place finishes at the world Paralympic games in 2011 and 2010, respectively, and a bronze medal at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The bronze came just weeks after Rees moved to Victoria with his wife and two sons, now two and four years old, from Waterloo, Ont. He completed his doctorate in applied mathematics and came here to start his current job as a postdoctoral research fellow at UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

His eyesight began deteriorating in his late teens and has declined more rapidly than expected. “There is a ray of hope to one day restore my sight through a research project currently underway, maybe five or 10 years down the road, but mine is a rarer condition under the broader scope of the research.”

In the meantime, Rees says it’s a pretty normal life. He’s the only visually impaired member of the 55-year-old Victoria Judo Club, but is adamant in his belief that judo is an ideal sport for visually impaired people to practise.

“It’s a very accommodating club and is a great way to spend time.”

Rees opens the London Paralympic judo competition with a qualifying round on Saturday, Sept. 1.

“I’ve faced many of the athletes in my category before, and they’re surprisingly strong. They have a great sense of balance,” Rees said.

 

Just Posted

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Victoria city council seeks authority to tax empty homes

Council is asking the province for the authority to invoke a vacancy tax

Backyardigans, Max & Ruby stage shows add to Family Day in Sidney

Bodine Hall shows make room for kids to sing, dance, enjoy Family Day weekend

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

VIDEO: Excessive speed on the Malahat captured by dash cam footage

Poster calls driving ‘dangerous, obnoxious and disrespectful’

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Most Read