NEW BRITAIN - Sometimes friends fight.
For Josephine Fox and Alya-Lynn Mercado, both members of New Britain Judo and Dynamic Arts, their fight was all in good, competitive fun.
On Saturday, the two made their way onto the mat, bowed and then competed against each other in the the Nutmeg Games judo tournament. And as the friends sparred, it was Mercado who came out with the win in the opening round of the girls three-team, double-elimination 6-7 age group at New Britain High School.
“It was good,” Mercado said as Fox nodded her head in agreement. “We’re still friends.”
By the day’s end, there was plenty for the friends to cheer about.
Mercado went on to win the bracket and take third in the girls 6-8 division. Fox, meanwhile, had plenty of success of her own. After taking third in 6-7, she claimed the girls two-player, 6-7 pool.
“I won a few matches and they were all very hard,” said Fox as she held up the two medal hanging around her neck. “I’m proud of myself.”
“I like to fight,” Mercado said, doing the same thing. “I’ve been involved in judo for almost a year now.”
Besides participating in judo both girls play other sports. When no practicing her kicks, Fox is involved in gymnastics and ballet.
“This is the best focus effort right now so we’ll see [about her future in Judo],” said her father, John, who is an assistant judo instructor at New Britain Judo and Dynamic Arts. “She has a little bit of an edge, so if the edge outweighs the ballerina in her, maybe she’ll fight in the future.”
Saturday was Fox’s first official fight. And although she has only practiced fighting a couple times, she enjoyed the new experience John said.
“She has been actively practicing since April,” he said. “She is very goal driven. She’s very achievement orientated and I think that's one of the things for competing today. She knew that was one of the requirements she had to achieve. She’s a very happy girl.”
Mercado is also involved in gymnastics, but as of right now, she is putting a majority of her focus on judo.
“We kind of slowed down a little bit with gymnastics just because judo has been taking over a lot of the tournaments,” her mother Sierra said. “So we’ve geared most of her activity towards judo.”
Although Mercado has only been involved in judo for just a year, her mother sees great potential in the years to come. Saturday was certainly a good indication.
“I see her going far in the sport,” Sierra said. “She loves to help people in anyway she can so I figured why not get her involved in judo so she knows how to defend herself or she can help somebody that may be in danger. She’s just very loving and caring. With the way her body structure is, she is very athletic. [Judo is] great discipline and I feel like it helps her give her the confidence she needs as a woman.”
After Fox and Mercado finished up their matches and awarded their medals, the two posed for a picture. Sometimes, it’s OK for friends to fight.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org