Despite the fact the local judo season wrapped up months ago, Jared Catholique-Bruyere continued to train with his sights set on winning a medal at the Junior Olympic Championships in Toronto.
And all that hard work paid off as Catholique-Bruyere, 12, slammed his way to a bronze medal against six other fighters in the plus-55 kg division at Humber College last month.
But while Catholique-Bruyere, who tipped the scales at 72.5 kg for the competition, usually outweighs his opponents in his age group, he found himself going head-to-head with similarly-sized competitors in Toronto.
And that proved to be challenging for the local judoka, who routinely tops his division at most competitions.
Catholique-Bruyere started the tournament on a losing note, dropping a last-second decision to Christian Zalinsky of Kenora on points in his first action on the mat.
But he quickly got back on track on the ‘B’-side. After beating Damian Cosa, Catholique-Bruyere exacted revenge against Zalinsky in a rematch with a victory that earned him a berth in the silver-medal match against Thomas Filter.
But again, the local youth had trouble with the hulking size of his opponent and dropped the match to capture the bronze.
“I wasn’t expecting what he would do. He was bigger and that was the difference,” said Catholique-Bruyere, who will be attending a Legion judo camp next month.
“He was exactly the same size as me but I wasn’t used to that,” he noted.
All the extra work of doing specific exercises and cardiovascular workouts to go along with his regular training have helped Catholique-Bruyere become one of the top judokas in his age group in the province.
But he also credits the technical help he’s received from the coaches with the local club.
Meanwhile, last month’s competition was his last in that age group as he now must move up to the juvenile (13-15) division.
Yet while the competitors will be older—and most likely bigger—than those Catholique-Bruyere is used to fighting against, it won’t be a totally new experience.
In fact, he’s fought in that age group before, most recently at a tournament in Winnipeg.