Hatashita 2008 article in the Toronto Sun

Friday November 21st, 2008

Young judoka off the couch

By Gregor Chisholm, Sun Media 

Jack Hatton is not your run-of-the-mill teenager.

While a lot of his friends sit at home, eat junk food and play video games, the Grade 8 student from Glenville, N.Y., knows the value of good nutrition and the impact it has on his body, even at the age of 13.

He also happens to be one of the up-and-coming stars in the under-15, under-50 kilogram division in U.S. judo.

"Judo is a hard sport," said Hatton, one of more than 550 competitors taking part in the fourth annual Hatashita international judo tournament this weekend at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

"You have to do it a lot. I like it because it helps me stay in shape. If I wasn't in judo, I'd be sitting on the couch not really doing anything. I've learned having the proper diet and competing in events like this really pays off."

The two-day competition, which features judokas from as far away as Hawaii and Nunavut, is one Canada's largest.

Hatton won two of his four matches at last year's event, despite being one of the youngest competitors in his weight class.

"This tournament means a lot to me because it's opening my judo life to the international stage," Hatton said. "I'm going to start trying to qualify for junior world's next year and this is a perfect introduction to what it's going to be like."

Hatton said he was born into a judo family, learning the sport from his father when he was just five years old. The experience clearly has paid off. His coach, four-time U.S. Olympian Jason Morris, said he has seen something special in his young protege who will compete in his first fight of the tournament this morning.

"He has got great potential," said Morris, who won silver at the 1992 Summer Games. "I believe that Jack Hatton is going to be heard quite loud in our judo world. He's in a great program, he has a great support system in his family and he has developed his technical abilities. He's a little fighter."

Hatton said his goal is to finish on the podium. But if not, getting his name out to a large audience will only establish his future place in the sport.

"I think to get exposure for a 13-year-old kid is great," said Roman Hatashita, a four-time Canadian champ and title sponsor for the event. "The kids will realize where they stand nationally, internationally. That's important because they'll realize they might have to work harder orrealize they're on the right track."

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