P.A. judoka medals in London

Jannessa Keays stands and smiles for a photo after winning bronze at the Sportif International judo tournament in London on April 1, 2018. -- Photo Courtesy of Robyn Keays/Submitted

Competing in her first-ever international competition overseas, Jannessa Keays hit bronze.

The 14-year-old Judoka competed in the annual Sportif International over Easter weekend in London, after being invited to compete in the tournament by some of her Judo Saskatchewan coaches.

“I felt like it was harder at the start, because I didn’t know them (my opponents); I’ve never fought them before. I felt a little scared in a sense at the start,” she said.

Keays sparred in the 70-plus kilogram weight class, in the Cadets age group, which is for judokas aged 14 to 16 years old.

All of her opponents were based in England, and the tournament was her first time to see them.

“I just kind of fought though. I lost my first two, but then made a comeback and won bronze,” she said.

The Prince Albertan competed against four other opponents to win the bronze medal – that meant six total fights for her, she explained.

“I had four fights at the start, and then I lost three and won one. Then a girl dropped out, because she got hurt, so we (the remaining judokas) had a tie between three of us. So we had to fight each other again,” Keays said.

That left her with two more fights, one of which she won and one of which she lost, securing her the bronze medal on April 1.

She said that one thing that stands out for her about the competition was the chance for a bit of revenge over two of her opponents, both of who train with their England-based judo club.

“Both those girls beat me before. And then I came back and beat them, and I think that just kind of stood out … I think I fought harder,” she said.

The 14-year-old was one of 11 judokas who from Saskatchewan who competed in the tournament.

Keays was among four from the province who medaled.

Next up, she said she’ll be preparing for nationals, which happens in May in Calgary.

She’ll be competing as a member of team Saskatchewan.