3 In October, Stefan Zwiers said he had only left Canada because of judo.
In three months he visited Germany, Turkey, Japan and Thailand.
For anybody unaware of the Zwiers name in judo, tying the countries and sport together would lead to an educated guess that he’s been successful in the sport.
That’s a correct answer.
Prior to making the transition to the senior level late in the year, Zwiers capped off his junior career by participating in the 14th World Junior Judo Championship, held Oct. 23 to 26 in Bangkok, Thailand. He qualified for the international competition while he was overseas participating in tournaments in Berlin, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey.
Zwiers, a 19-year-old who stands six-foot-five and competes in the minus-100 kilogram category, also took on the top senior judokas in the country in 2008. In May, he travelled to Quebec City for the Canadian Senior Judo Championships. The following month, he returned to eastern Canada for the junior national championship July 5 and 6 in Toronto.
Through all his success, Zwiers remains a student of judo. In July he received tips from Olympians at a two-week training camp in Montreal. Prior to arriving in Bangkok for the World Junior competition, he spent four days in Tokyo, Japan to train at the Kodokan. The Kodokan is a centre with dojos, or training areas, where judokas around the world can practice to prepare for competitions.
4 Amanda Asay has seen her share of international baseball competition.
Therefore, the 20-year-old Prince George native had an idea what to expect from the opposition at the the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Women’s Baseball World Cup, which took place Aug. 24 to 29 in Matsuyama, Japan.
The 20-year-old first baseman and catcher helped Team Canada capture the silver medal in the competition with an overall record of 4-2. They lost 11-3 to Japan in the gold medal game on Aug. 29.
Getting used to other elements may have been the challenging part for the 2008 Canadian national women’s team member. Asay hadn’t been to Japan prior to last year’s Women’s Baseball World Cup.
At the 2006 World Cup competition in Taiwan, Asay and the Canadian women’s squad finished in third place, behind the tournament-winning U.S. women’s team and the second-place Japanese squad.
Other teams that competed in the 2008 World Cup were Australia, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India and Korea.
Asay was one of 18 females listed on the 2008 Canadian women’s squad, and the only B.C. player
Asay’s road to joining the national women’s team in 2005 began as a Little League player in Prince George. She switched over to girls’ fastball when she was 13, then a few years later she began playing both sports. Her efforts also led her to a roster spot on the Division 1 Bears women’s fastball team at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She entered her third year at Brown University in the fall. She also plays on the university’s female hockey squad.
5 In the Prince George fastball circles, it’s easy to get Potskins mixed up.
Jessin Potskin, who has been spotted playing shortstop and outfield at Prince George fastball diamonds, has been doing what’s in his power to stand out above the rest.
Potskin, whose relatives include national men’s fastball team members Evan Potskin and Randy Potskin, made the roster of the Canadian junior team that competed at the 2008 ISF (International Softball Federation) Junior Men’s World Fast Pitch Championship. At the competition, a 12-team tournament from June 20 to 29 in Whitehorse, Jessin helped the host squad finish runner-up to Australia. The Australian team defeated Canada 2-1 in an extra inning to win the title.
The other teams competing were the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Venezuela, Denmark, Czech Republic, Botswana and South Africa.
Jessin, a Prince George native, began running the bases as a baseball player, but since he turned his attention to fastball he’s taken a big chunk of the Potskin glory. At the World Fast Pitch Championship, he was the seventh top batter after round robin play with a .441 batting average in 34 at bats. Potskin, a 19-year-old when the tournament began, also had four home runs and 11 runs batted in after the round robin.
6 Bo Hedges calls Prince George his home away from home.
The 28-year-old may hail from Fort St. John, but he gives credit to B.C.’s Northern Capital for helping him reach new heights in wheelchair basketball.
Hedges, who celebrates his 29th birthday on Jan. 5, rewarded the city that helped shape his life by visiting Prince George in October to show off his latest achievement a silver medal attained at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.
Hedges, a resident of Burnaby who trains in the Lower Mainland, was a member of the Canadian men’s team that finished runner-up to Australia in wheelchair basketball in September.
One of a few scheduled stops during a visit to Prince George, the Coast Inn of the North was the site of a special breakfast to honour Hedges on Oct. 5. A crowd of about 60 people listened to Hedges speak about his Paralympic experience, and were given the opportunity to see his silver medal up close.
Hedges, a former UNBC student, was one of 12 players named to the Canadian men’s wheelchair squad. The Canadians’ 72-60 defeat to Australia in the gold medal game was their only setback in eight games at the tournament.
Hedges first heard about wheelchair basketball when he was in rehabilitation. He injured his spine when he was 13 years old, falling out of a tree at his Fort St. John home.
Wheelchair basketball turned into a passion for Hedges, who was supported by Pat Harris, who coached him on the Prince George Titans’ wheelchair basketball squad. Harris also sent wheelchairs to Fort St. John so Hedges’ friends could practice with him.