Kelowna judo athlete prepares for 2021 Paralympic Games qualifiers

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A Kelowna paralympic hopeful is busy training as her shot at making it to Tokyo for the Paralympic Games grows closer. Sydney Morton met with Michelle Jorgensen at the dojo . – May 23, 2021

Ever since Michelle Jorgensen started on her path to the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games, people have been asking her how they can support her. Instead of financial donations, Jorgensen is hoping people will donate blood.

“This is something free that people can do and it can literally save someone’s life,” said Jorgensen.

The 27-year-old athlete who is visually impaired is in the top ten in her category in the sport of judo.

“I can hear where your footsteps are, I am good with spatial awareness so I can track you, I can follow you and I can tap you out if you give me the shot,” said Jorgensen.

Jorgensen said her knowledge of multiple martial arts gives her an advantage in competition.

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“I can use my jiu-jitsu on the ground, I can use my boxing for if they grab me, [and] using my dancing, my footwork has really improved and my overall strength has improved,” said Jorgensen.

“I am focused on judo but not laser-focused on judo.”

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Jorgensen has been training hard at her home dojo, the Kelowna Judo Club, to make sure she is ready.

“[Her] biggest strength is her groundwork,” said Stu Leatherdale, Kelowna Judo Club instructor.

“Judo starts on the feet and involves throws but ultimately ends up on the ground where there are hold-downs or submissions; either chokes or arm locks.

“Largely because of Michelle’s jiu-jitsu background, she is high level when she gets to the mat.”

Read more: Okanagan paralympians celebrated

The only thing in her way right now is the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Grand Prix in Warwick, England, in June, which is the final qualifying event before the games at the home of judo — Tokyo.

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The 2021 Paralympic Games take place August 24 – September 5.

For anyone wanting to support her, she’s requesting that they drive to the nearest blood donation clinic and roll up a sleeve.

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