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Saturday, 18 August 2012 18:15

Kekua Marumoto poised for success

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MarumotoKekua Marumoto is usually a competitive guy, but at Sunday's Sunao Migita Memorial Tournament he wasn't as concerned about wins and losses. That's because the 14-year-old brown belt from Kapolei Family Judo Club has a bigger goal in mind: Win nationals.

Marumoto, who competed in the male juvenile-B, under 132-pound division Sunday, is one of two from his club that will make the trek to Toledo, Ohio next month for the United States Judo Association/United States Judo Federation joint Junior Nationals.

"I'm shooting for gold, but any medal would be nice," Marumoto said, who began judo at the age of seven. "I've been to nationals every single year since I began and I've never placed in one yet; I was close last year."

At his first nationals -- held here in Honolulu -- Marumoto was taken aback by the magnitude of the event.

"I remember that I didn't really want to do it at first, but it was at (Neal) Blaisdell (Arena)," Marumoto said. "I thought it was going to be another tournament, but when I got there it was way harder and there were a lot more people. It was very eye-opening for me."

Marumoto, who placed first at Sunday's tournament, said he dealt with his share of losing before experiencing success.

"When I was 10 or 11, I used to get bust up and never used to win," Marumoto said. "It wasn't until last year that I finally began to understand the techniques and movement. Now when I watch myself on video, it's very different."

As the victories began adding up, Marumoto's outlook on the sport changed.

"I didn't used to like judo before, because I would just get bust up (at the tournaments) and go home, but it's really fun for me now," he said.

Kapolei head instructor Randall Platt feels that Marumoto is coming into his own.

"He's been in judo for a while, but I know he's in a few other sports, so he's coming back around and putting more effort into practice," said Platt, who noted Kekua's older brother, Kainoa, as a probable influence. "Kekua was working out with the (Kapolei) High School team last year, which was good. I think it got him to commit himself more. He's definitely more serious about judo than before."

Marumoto just completed the eighth grade at Kapolei Middle and will most likely join Kainoa at Kapolei High next year. He said he is on the waiting list for Kamehameha-Kapalama.

As part of his training for nationals, Marumoto said he has been lifting weights five days a week for the past three months in addition to judo practices Mondays through Thursdays.

Marumoto was pleased, but not satisfied with his performance Sunday.

"It was good because there were three other guys in my bracket," said Marumoto, who departs for Ohio via Los Angeles Wednesday. "I always come to this tournament before nationals so I know what will work for me and what won't. Overall I think I did well, stayed calm, but probably could have worked on some techniques and had a little better timing."

Last modified on Monday, 20 August 2012 17:56
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