Taryn Montgomery has spent her summer paying her dues.
© submitted photo
Taryn Montgomery poses with her Judo Sask Most Improved Female Athlete award and her Female under-18 nomination award.
The 16-year-old Moose Javian competed above her weight class and her age group at two international judo competitions in the United States this summer.
She recently finished competing at the Junior U.S. Open championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and competed at the USA Judo Junior Olympic National Championships in Irving, Tex. just outside of Dallas at the end of June.
"It was a great experience," said Montgomery of her trip to the Junior U.S. Open. "It was a big competition and there were a lot of girls. It was fun."
Montgomery competed in the under-18 and the under-21 divisions and also moved up a weight class. She competed in the under-63 kilogram (kg) division instead of the under-57 kg class she would normally compete in.
"I actually found that I fought better in my U21 than I did in U18. I think I was mentally defeated on the first day going into it. It was my first day fighting in a new weight division and I kind of let it get to me," said Montgomery, who weighed in just under 59 kg.. "When it came to the second day I had my head more wrapped around things and I was more ready for 'go time' that day."
Montgomery finished 0-4 at the competition, but was happy with how she competed in the U21s and was happy to get some new experiences. She competed against a pair of German judoka who were both taller than she is.
"That's a new experience for me," said Montgomery, who is five-foot-eight. "One of the girls was just about six-foot, so she was a good four inches taller than I am. She cut five or six kilos to be in the weight division, so on the day of competition she was probably about 20 pounds heavier than I am if she gained all of the weight back that she cut.
"For fighting up an age division and practically a weight division… I'm fairly happy with my fights in the under-21 division."
Montgomery had more success at the Junior Olympics in Texas, but that had it's own disappointments. She competed in the under-18 and the under-21 divisions, but in the under-57 kg weight class.
"I did very well in both divisions. I'm not saying it was my best performance of the year, but I'm very proud of how I fought," said Montgomery who competed with Team Alberta. "I was very happy coming out of it because it felt great to know that I can compete with the top five percent in the world right now.
"One of the girls I fought from the U.S. has been to worlds. The girl from Team Alberta who finished on top of the podium is a pretty good friend of mine and we train together a lot."
Montgomery finished 2-2 in the under-21 division and battled her way to the bronze medal fight in the under-18 division, but was disqualified for having an illegal gi.
There had been new rules for how the gi must fit a fighter and Montgomery's gi was deemed to be too loose around her wrists under the new regulations.
She had already fought five matches in the gi before it was judged to be illegal in the bronze medal match.
"Being a Canadian in a U.S. Junior Olympic competition I wasn't expecting to get that call to go my way," she said. "Either way, I went there and I fought well."
It was the first competition with the new rules and Montgomery knew she wasn't going to be able to get a new gi sized and shipped from Japan in time for the competition.
It's been a busy off-season for Montgomery and she has a lot of hard work and some hard to decisions to make before the start of the next season in the fall. For a start, she is still deciding if she should compete at 57 kg or 63 kg for the upcoming season.
"I'm still waiting for some opinions to come in from different coaches as well as a nutritionist, plus my dad as well. I'm waiting to have a chat will all of them to see what they think will be best for me," said Montgomery.
It's a big season for Montgomery. The Canada Winter Games will take place in Prince George, B.C. in February and is one of many competitions she is hoping to qualify for.
"I have to stay humble and continue to work as hard as I can to work to get to the next level," said Montgomery who competes out of the Regina Y Judo Club.
"I've decided to keep working through the summer and into the fall. I want to get as much practice in as possible. I want to refine my techniques and develop new techniques to put into my repertoire. I want to make sure I'm as mentally prepared and as physically fit as I can be."
She will be attending the Quebec Open and Ontario Open early in the season and she knows she will also need to be putting in a lot of work in the gym to get stronger for for the busy season that is ahead of her.
"I'm hoping for a really good year, but if I move up to 63 kg I know it's going to be a hard year. I'm going to have to work hard in the gym and make sure I can compete with the older girls who are a little stronger than I am," she said.