Ready to battle the best

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

Rashad Chin has developed a rather unique way to relieve the stress from his 30-hour shifts in the intensive care unit at Health Sciences Centre and heavy study load as a third year medical student.

The 24-year-old likes to throw people for a loop on the judo mat to unwind.

"It's a outlet where I can relieve some stress and relieve some tension because it can be very stressful," said Chin, one of three Manitoba judokas who will compete at the World University Judo Championships next week in Suwon, Korea. "There's a lot going on in the hospital when you're working with critically-ill patients. Here you worry about yourself and hopefully you don't put anyone in the hospital."

Joining Chin in Korea will be fellow second degree black belt Aaron Pfeffer -- the 73-kg gold medallist at the Canadian Senior Championships in Winnipeg in May -- and Cole Hunt. Local coach and 1984 Olympic bronze medallist Mark Berger will serve as the national team coach.

The silver medallist in the 90-kg event at the Senior Nationals, Hunt has been training with the national team in Montreal for the last three weeks.

"There will be some very good judo from the Asian countries as well as from all over the world," said Chin, the 60-kg silver medallist at the Senior Nationals who last weekend won the 60-kg title at the Manitoba Open. "It's at the age where you're fighting (some of the best in the world). It's university but it's at the peak age for competitive judo with obviously some very strong athletes."

IMPORTANT

The World University Judo Championships is one of the most important judo competitions, behind only the World Championships and the Olympics in importance.

Chin admits he could never have dreamed of competing at this level when he started in judo 16 years ago. It just happened.

"You just slowly fall into competing at the higher and higher level," said Chin, a gold medallist at the 1999 Canada Winter Games and a bronze medallist at the 2000 and 2001 Pan American Championships. "You never expect it when you start at a young age. But as you move on, you progress."

"I've got my work cut out for me but it will give me an idea of where I stand in the world in my weight class," said Pfeffer, the 2005 YMHA Jewish Athlete of the Year. "I'm in good shape. I feel strong and there are no injuries to hinder me. There's no excuses. I'll put it all on the table."

Earlier this year, Pfeffer placed ninth at the Tre Tori Tournament in Corridonia, Italy and helped Canada finish second in the team competition.

"Every competition is a stepping stone," added Pfeffer, in his final year in kinesiology at the University of Winnipeg. "It opens up the doors for bigger competitions depending on how well you do."

According to Berger, many of the top judo countries -- including powerhouses like China, Korea, France, Japan and Russia -- use the university system to train their national team athletes.

"(At this level) You don't have one or two easy fights before you get into the medal rounds," said Berger. "You have to ready from the start."


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