Braxton Clark throws sparring partner Neil Barnetson during training at the Nanaimo Judo Club last month.

Braxton Clark throws sparring partner Neil Barnetson during training at the Nanaimo Judo Club last month.

Judo athletes represent country on European tour

Nanaimo's Braxton Clark and Alicia Fiandor qualified for Judo Canada’s national team and will head to Coimbra, Portugal, this week.

Nanaimo judo standouts will get a chance to take on the world.

Braxton Clark and Alicia Fiandor qualified for Judo Canada’s national team and will be part of a European tour that starts this weekend (March 12-14) in Coimbra, Portugal.

Fiandor said it was exciting to make the team.

“I’ve never fought for Team Canada before, so I’m pretty proud to represent my country,” she said.

Neither Nanaimo judoka has experienced overseas competition before and Fiandor said she has no idea what to expect.

“I’m really excited to find out, though,” she said. “It’s going to be a completely new experience.”

The athletes have upped their training and Clark said he’s been eating and living clean to try to be at his best for the upcoming competitions.

“It’s definitely quite nerve-wracking,” he said. “I’m going to be on edge the whole time. It’s going to be probably one of my most nervous tournaments I’m going to be at, but we’ll see.”

He said judo has a higher profile in Europe and pointed out that high-level judoka there don’t have to travel far to find top competition. Not knowing the athletes he’ll be facing, he’s just going to stick to what he’s been practising, “and hopefully it works out.”

After Portugal, the tour continues in Germany, with the women competing in Bremen and the men going to Frankfurt.

While Fiandor and Clark will represent Canada abroad, they are also representing their Nanaimo club and inspiring the next generation of judoka.

“I’m really hoping it does…” said Clark. “[Judo] has taken me so many places. So I really hope some kids can take this to their advantage and hopefully they can start going to the national level and get there, too.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com