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Labor of Love: The Alo family Featured

Written by  Kalani Takase
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Within five years of taking up the sport of judo, Teshya and Teniya Alo have blossomed into two of the premiere practitioners in the state of Hawaii. This fall, even the best of Latin America proved to be no match for the sisters from Liliha.

The Alo's combined for six wins with no losses between them to claim a pair of gold medals at the Infantil Pan Am Championships, Oct. 3-4 in Panama City, Panama. Teshya captured the under-15, 44-kilogram in convincing fashion as did younger sister Teniya, who won the under-13, 31-kilogram division.

Teshya, 12, said the opportunity to represent the United States was a little nerve-wracking. "Usually we go to other states to represent Hawaii, but this time we went to another country to represent the USA," Teshya said at the recent Hawaii Judo, Inc. State Tournament at Salt Lake District Park Gym. "When I stepped onto the mat for my first match, it kind of hit me. I was a little bit nervous because I was playing different people and I didn't know how they played."

Teshya beat competitors from Ecuador, Peru and Mexico - all by tomoe-nage - winning all her matches by ippon.

"It wasn't too challenging, but it was cool to see how other people train," she said.

Little sister, Teniya, 11, produced similar results, winning by ippon against Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela. She used an uchimata-to-ouchi gari switch in her first match and won the other two by uchimata.

"We didn't get to play that many matches but I just wanted to make my country proud," said Teniya. The sisters were accompanied on the trip by mom, Cherise, dad, Leroy, younger brother, Javen, 6, and Pearl City Hongwanji instructor Chris Sokugawa.

"Actually, it was kind of scary, not what we expected, I guess," Teshya said. "When we first arrived there, there were a lot of army soldiers driving around on motorcycles with guns on their backs. There were gunshots when we went to sleep, too."

Teniya chimed in: "And there are no street lights."

"I think there are two sides to Panama: one very safe side where you can walk around, but there's also the other side that you don't want to go to if you're a tourist," Teshya explained.

The group was able to do some sightseeing during the week-long trip.

"The malls are really nice," Teshya said. "They're huge and have a lot of food courts."

She said the toughest part of the trip was getting acclimated to the muggy Panama weather.

"It was super hot," Teniya said. "It was humid, too, and foggy. I think the temperature was close to 100 (degrees)."

But, for all their travels and accomplishments, the Alo's say judo is a labor of love. The sisters, who began at ages five (Teniya) and seven (Teshya), admit they love contact and no other sport have filled that need like judo.

"We would fight with each other a lot when we were young," Teshya recalled. "My dad noticed that it looked like we were wrestling, so he took us to classes and about a year after that, my mom started taking us to judo practice."

Between them, the pair have tried their hands - or feet - at soccer, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, boxing, tae kwon do, hula, piano, hip-hop dancing and even tackle football."

"Not enough contact in baseball," said a smiling Teniya.

Her sister added: "We kind of jumped from one sport to another and we didn't like this one, so we started that one and so on, but I've always loved judo because I enjoy how it's a one-on-one challenge, not like some team sports.

"If there wasn't judo in my life, I think right now I would be at home, bored, or just doing my work. I think judo is a good sport to have in your life because you meet more friends and sometimes it teaches you a lesson," Teshya said.

To be sure, the schedule is demanding of the youngsters.
"I usually finish school at 3:17 (p.m.), do my homework until wrestling practice at 4, after that we go to judo practice at Pearl City and I get home around 9, shower, eat dinner and then go to sleep," said Teshya, who attends Kamehameha-Kapalama.

But, the sisters realize they are not the only ones the schedule takes a toll on.
"Our parents ... they sacrifice a lot for us," Teniya said.
Teshya acknowledged as much: "It is a little bit challenging because they have their own work to catch up on. My dad homeschools my sister and my mom works at the airport eight hours a day, so when she misses work, she has to double up (shifts) and it can get really hard because they have to drive us all over to practice and tournaments."

That realization, in addition to their love of the sport, keeps the Alo's going everyday.
"When I was really small, I didn't always feel like going to judo practice, but now that I'm used to the routine, it's fun," said Teshya, who wanted to be a food critic as a youngster. "It's good to go to practice and train hard because the way you practice is the way you perform at tournaments."
She has tried to pass along that message to her younger sister in the hopes that she will do the same for Javen.

"I beat (Teniya) up all the time, because I treat it like a national tournament when I go with her at practice, but she gets back up and keeps fighting," Teshya said. "When I go with the sensei's, I try my hardest, but they throw me all the times, but each time I get up, it makes me better."

Teniya, who is several inches shorter than her sister, has high aspirations for little brother.
"I think he'll be good, hopefully he'll be the best out of all of us," she said. "Then he can protect all of us when he gets older."

Note: Three other Hawaii judoka from Hawaii Tenri Judo Club also competed at the Infantil Pan Am Championships and bought home medals. Cole Chandler (male under-15, 44-kg.) won his division while Noah Pineda-Abaya (male under-15, 48-kg.) placed second and Cassidy Chandler (female under-15, 53-kg.) earned a bronze medal.

Last modified on Monday, 20 August 2012 21:08

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