Airdrie teen captures Alberta Winter Games judo gold

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With less than a year of judo training under her belt, Airdrie’s Teyana Roberts turned heads at the 2018 Alberta Winter Games Feb. 16 to 19, earning a gold medal.

At the age of 14, Roberts entered the Female Over 57 kilograms (kg) to 63kg event and steamrolled the eight-person tournament.

“I’m really proud of myself,” Roberts said. “I didn’t expect to do as great as I did.”

Although she is new to judo, Roberts’ background in martial arts worked to her advantage – for the past three years, she’s been training in jiu-jitsu. According to Roberts, judo and jiu-jitsu complement one another, and she decided to try judo to balance out her martial arts skills.

“Jiu-jitsu helps me more in the ground for judo,” Roberts said. “When I first started, my strength was on the ground to hold people down. But since I’ve started judo, I’ve gotten really good at taking people down, so that will help with (my) jiu-jitsu.”

Roberts made good use of her strong ground game in her first major judo competition.

In the final, she took on older athlete Isabella Shepansky from St. Albert. The two had already faced off earlier in the competition, but Roberts’ skill enabled her to eliminate her opponent and bring home the gold. According to Roberts, going up against Shepansky for the second time gave her an advantage.

“I had to see how she fought so I could defend what she did,” she said.

Although Roberts doesn’t exclusively train in Airdrie – her main training centre is Hiro’s Judo Club in Calgary – she does train with the Airdrie Judo Club on occasion. According to Roberts, training with different clubs allows her to become accustomed to competing with different people.

She added her training in Airdrie is much more technical and allows her to fine-tune her skills.

With another two years of Alberta Winter Games eligibility remaining for Roberts, she will have the opportunity to defend her gold medal when the games hit Airdrie in 2020.

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