It sounds like Ali Briggs is tired of third.
In all her years of national level combat, the 20-year-old judo competitor has won seven bronze medals – including two in Quebec at the 2014 Canadian Judo Championship on May 15-18 – and one silver, last year.
During a telephone interview from Lethbridge, Alta., where the former 100 Mile House resident is training and attending university, she says nationals are always a lot of fun and the competition is always good, but she was disappointed with her recent results.
“I was going in looking for a first or a second [place finish]. But, I still medalled. I’m coming to terms with it, I guess you could say. Now, it’s a matter of going back and readjusting my training plans.”
Briggs fought to a 3-1 record in the senior division and 2-1 in the U21 division, in the minus 52-kilogram weight class.
Ontario’s Briana McCracken, a competitor Briggs has fought, and also beat, a number of times, took gold.
“It can go either way on any given day,” Briggs says of their matchup.
“I was feeling pretty good going into the semifinals with Briana, and I lost. She managed to win both [U21] and senior. She had an amazing tournament.”
Reid Collinson, who also calls the Kokoro Judo Club in 100 Mile House his home club, had two tough fights in the U16 minus-42 kg class.
After dropping his first match to Cedrick Desjardins of Quebec, Collinson met fellow Team BC member and Prince George judoka Taylor Schaus, a strong competitor he’s been fighting regularly for several years now.
Collinson, 13, went 0-2 in what was his second nationals appearance.
It’s the sort of trouble Briggs had early on in her career as well. She was “beaten very handily” in her first national competition.
“I probably spent a total of 30 seconds on the mat. In those young divisions especially, you don’t know what’s going to happen. For someone like Reid, or someone very young starting out, nationals are totally open.
“I know [national competition is] really intimidating … but at that age, anyone can win it.”
Collinson says Quebec was “awesome” nonetheless. The group did some sightseeing in historic Old Quebec, and he enjoyed a training camp there that focused on standing technique and groundwork.
“I, unfortunately, didn’t win any of my matches, but it was still an excellent experience.”
Collinson adds he’s going to try to qualify for nationals again next year, and he’s considering weight training, along with more judo, to get physically stronger in the meantime.
Kokoro Judo Club members Aidan Fentiman and Paige Hall also qualified for nationals, but didn’t attend because of health reasons.
Briggs’ bronze streak started at her second national championship about seven years ago.
“If I step back, I realize judo has given me a ton, and I’ve done really well at it, but it’s still hard on the day when you know how close you could have been,” she says of getting over that third place hump.
“I do realize that bronze at nationals is good. But it’s my goal to break that streak and go for gold ultimately. But silver would be fine.”