With 12 career World Cup / Grand Prix medals, judoka Nick Tritton feels one can be his in London. Photo provided
Name: NICHOLAS TRITTON
Age: 28 (on July 20)
Residence: Montreal, QC
Associations: Takahashi Dojo, Ottawa Judo Club
Previous Olympics: 2008
By Dan Plouffe
A herniated disk has kept him out of action for almost all of 2012, but worry not, judoka Nick Tritton has an ace up his sleeve for use at the London 2012 Olympics – baby power.
The 27-year-old and girlfriend Tomoko Mori welcomed Taylor into the world two months ago, and Tritton is hoping for the same good fortune he received when two-and-a-half-year-old Emma was born.
“During the eight month period before she was born and afterwards, I was like unbeatable,” Tritton smiles. “My girlfriend was like, ‘It’s perfect timing. You’re going to be just on fire at the Olympics.’”
But more than a good luck charm, the -73 kg competitor believes there was a practical reason for the success he found as a parent.
“It’s changing,” Tritton explains. “For me, I was always thinking sports and doing sports. Having a daughter kind of took that away a little bit. It actually makes you open your eyes and say, ‘Oh. Sport is sport, and this is the real world. She comes first.’
“It actually helps me perform because it’s taken so much stress out of my sport.”
Both girls sleep well, but his daughters’ arrival has required some scheduling discipline during the day. It usually starts with an early wakeup to get Emma ready for daycare, a morning workout, a bit of recovery downtime (or housework), and then picking up Emma while Mori gets home from work so he can go to night training.
“There’s no party time any more,” Tritton notes. “There’s no hanging out with the boys.”
The grueling international travel schedule required of elite judokas – a sport with “no off-season” and Olympic qualifying events most weekends of the year, Tritton notes – has now become even more taxing with a family back home.
“It’s tough being away,” says the Perth, Ont. native who would travel in to Ottawa to train several nights a week during his teenage years. “You go away for a month and then you look at your daughter when you come back and she’s a totally different kid.”
It doesn’t help that the trips are frequently to less-than-pleasant training camps in eastern Europe, where prison-style slop on a plate for breakfast is all part of the fun.
But of course there’s an upside too, and it comes with visiting the parts of the world that treat judo like Canada treats hockey.
“There’s crowds of 15,000 people watching you. Here, there’s like 15 people watching you,” Tritton describes. “When I come off the plane in Paris, people know me. It’s kind of like if Kobe Bryant was walking down the street here – it’s the same thing for judo in Paris or Japan. You’re like a superstar.”
Owning medals from some of the most challenging World Cup events on the circuit, the world’s 28th-ranked judoka had designs on a podium place in London, and that outlook hasn’t changed despite a back injury that kept him out of training for three full months and the better part of two more before his recent return to action.
“I think my body kind of just broke down and said, ‘Enough is enough,’” Tritton recounts, again highlighting the intense Olympic qualifying schedule.
“I feel like I have enough time to get back into shape,” he adds. “I still have a little ways to go obviously, but overall, my strength and conditioning is good.”
In his first trip to the Olympics in 2008, Tritton drew a solid opponent in the first round, lost in overtime, and that was it.
“It was tough to swallow, but leading into these Games, I’ve been thinking every day about that moment,” recalls Tritton, who’s won 12 career World Cup/Grand Prix medals and wants another from London. “I’ve beaten everybody there. I’ve beaten the world champion, so it’s within my means, but you’ve got to show up on that one day and deal with all the pressure and make sure that everything’s perfect.”
Mon. July 30
Men's -73 kg, 3:30 a.m.