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Tristan Alexander Open judo tournament in Colwood draws 200 participants

The inaugural competition was named after Alexander, who died in a snowboarding accident in 2021

Judo athletes across B.C. showed courage at the inaugural Tristan Alexander Memorial Open in Colwood’s Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre on Saturday, April 20.

“Tristan would have been humbled,” said Ken Jolley, a former coach of Alexander and instructor at the Victoria Judo Club.

Alexander was a former provincial and national judo champion who died in 2021 after a snowboarding accident on Mount Washington. He won the Canadian Open Nationals under 21 competition in 2018 and competed in various Western Canada Summer Games, winning bronze in 2018 and silver in 2019.

The new tournament saw athletes from across B.C. compete, including some of Alexander’s former teammates who had not competed in some time, according to event organizer Jeremy Grant.

“It was out of respect for his memory. That was amazing for me to see,” said Grant.

The open saw about 200 competitors in various age groups and skill levels. Some age groups on display were under-8, under-10, under-12, under-14, under-16, under-18, under-21, and more.

Most age groups were ranked and given medals, except the under-10, under-12, and under-eight divisions, for which no winners were selected.

Nolan Fitzgerald from Victoria Judo Club won gold in the senior intermediate 73 kg bracket, while Hung Nguyen took home silver in the novice 73 kg bracket. Many other athletes received medals.

The organizers said they are trying to grow the Tristan Alexander Memorial Open into a two-day event.

Grant said that judo competitions teach children life skills such as bravery and courage, who took a break from Judo but returned to the sport when he turned 30 years old after visiting a friend’s club and seeing them train.

“I just completely fell in love with it again,” said Grant. “It became an opportunity to get fit and to have a good time with my family.”

According to Grant, there are about 500 judo practitioners on the island, and it is a tiny but passionate community.

Jolley added he had around 21 students at the Tristan Alexander Memorial Open and was coaching his students from the sidelines, offering advice where he could. He recalls his time training Alexander and how much of a gentle giant he was around other students and would always take time to help others.

“He would always light up the room when he entered it.”

READ MORE: Greater Victoria man killed in snowboarding accident was a source of strength for his family

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