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Jeffrey continues family tradition winning judo titles in US

Rashneel Kumar
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

IT'S all about keeping the family dynasty alive. And the Turaga family from the US is leaving no stone unturned in keeping it going.

Jim Turaga, who left Fiji 15 years ago, is a former Fiji champion in judo, having represented Fiji in the 1987 South Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia.

Mother Emaline Turaga is brown belt holder and practises judo daily in Florida, US.

Their five children are also keen judokas but one of them is doing exceptionally well in the sport.

Jeffrey Turaga is seven-years-old but competes in the 9-10 age category because he is considered too "big" for his age group.

He started competing when he was only five and has been a winning the state and national titles since then.

In 2010, he claimed the silver medal in the Junior Olympics in Atlanta and two weeks ago he won the gold medal in the national event.

Jeffrey trains daily at the Florida Judo School and is in third grade at the Alafia Elementary School in Florida.

Speaking from Florida, US, father Jim said Jeffrey was very mischievous boy when he started going to school and always ended up in trouble.

To instil discipline in him, Jim, who holds second degree black belt (in judo), took him to a judo school where Jeffrey realised his dream of becoming a champion judoka in the future.

"He was a bad boy and always ended up in trouble at school. I'm a judoka and I know it teaches discipline so I introduced him to this sport," Jim said.

"Jeffrey now has become one of the disciplined students in school. Judo played a big part in reforming his behaviour."

Jim said although his son was training and competing in the US, he always harboured a dream to represent his native country, Fiji, at the international meet.

"I asked the Fiji Judo Association if they wanted Jeffrey to represent Fiji in the Junior Olympics but they were slow in coming back to me," Jim said.

"His future in judo looks pretty good and hopefully he would be able to represent Fiji at international level some day. He always says he wants to (represent Fiji) if he gets a chance."


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