As she prepared to head to Red Deer last week to take part in the 2019 Canada Winter Games, Jannessa Keays kept the same approach that she has used for other competitions, such as when she finished in second place at the national judo championships last year.
“It was the usual routine for me when it came to my warmups, my training and what I was eating,” Keays said. “The only difference was that I was determined to come away with a medal from Red Deer.
“Everything that I did was all leading up to the chance to accomplish my goal.”
The 15-year-old was able to reach the podium last Wednesday as she defeated Nova Scotia’s Emilie Townsend to take capture a bronze medal in the female +70 kilogram judo event.
“I had control for most of the match early on, but she started to take over the fight for a little bit there in the middle,” Keays said.
“I was able to get the momentum back and I scored a full point on a takedown, which allowed me to control things for the rest of the match. When the match ended, I was really happy with how I preformed and with the fact that I was able to win a medal.”
Keays started off the event with a win over Brandi Lingley of New Brunswick but would lose her next bout eventually silver medalist Sam Ulrich of Manitoba.
“I had a lot of confidence during the event, especially after my first fight as I was able to win the match in about four seconds,” Keays said.
She also relied on her experience from competing at last year’s Saskatchewan Winter Games in North Battleford to get used to being at a competition where a number of different sports were taking place.
“I wasn’t worried as much in Red Deer as I had more of an idea of what to expect from what I went through the previous winter,” Keays said.
“I really enjoyed the experience out there. I got to meet a lot of new people and just seeing the amount of fans that were watching the different sports was something that really stood out for me.”
There’s no rest for Keays after her trip to Red Deer, as she will take part in the Edmonton International this weekend before competing in the Pacific International event in Richmond, B.C. the following week.
“This is easily our busiest time of the year for everyone in this age group,” Keays said.
“I think there’s a lot to take from the Canada Winter Games experience, especially since it helps you get on the radar for possibly taking part at more national and international competitions in the future.”