I can’t admit to being a sports enthusiast by any means however, I do enjoy watching the journey of Janessa Keays over the last number of years as she makes a name for herself in the sport of Judo. A quick Google search of her name will give you an idea of her success as a competitor in Judo, “a sport of unarmed combat that uses balance, holds and throws” says Janessa as she describes her technique. Born and raised in Prince Albert, this beautiful teenager has been quietly making a name for herself at Judo tournaments, earning medals at competitions in Saskatchewan, western Canada, Quebec and England. For Janessa, the medals are a bonus to gaining new experiences and making life long friendships. Ultimately though, her goal is to keep improving so that she qualifies for larger tournaments with the end goal of competing for Canada at the Olympic Games.
In her spare time Janessa is a trumpet player in the school band. However, Judo does require most of her time and she enjoys it very much. Along with her dad and two sister, Janessa’s mom, Robyn, is perhaps one of her most active (and vocal!) supporters with much of her Facebook page being devoted to Janessa’s tournaments, fundraisers for expenses associated with travel and streaming competitions when they are available.
Perhaps the most challenging part of being a competitor in this sport is that Janessa doesn’t have an Aboriginal role model that she can look to for support. She is making ground breaking successes on her own, driven by her desire to achieve goals she has dreamed of making a reality for many years. For those who also have a similar dream and feel they are holding themselves back because no one else like them is doing it, Janessa encourages you with the following advice: “Don’t give up no matter how hard things get. Every moment has been memorable for me.” So far her favourite achievments are being named athlete of the year in 2016 and 2018, winning the bronze medal in England last year and the B.C. Pacifics gold.
If you’re interested in seeing Janessa compete there is a competition coming up in Prince Albert on April 27. You may also be interested in watching competitions during the 2019 Canada Winter Games that will be held in Red Deer,AB Feb. 15 to Mar. 3, 2019. Janessa will be there and her competitions will be live streamed. To find out more information, go online using the following web address: https://www.canadagames.ca/2019/sports
From all of us, best of success in your sport, Janessa. Prince Albert is proud of you!