By Kaylee Ward
Wanting to follow in her brothers footsteps, Mja Towner consistently pleaded with her mother to join judo. Once her mother was worn down, she told Mja to ask her father who said to Mja, “Yes, we’ll start tomorrow.” Mja started judo at Western Idaho Judo, currently located in Ontario, Oregon, and has been taught by her sensei’s Robert Fukuda and Michael Eldridge. With intense training and learning, Mja has competed in multiple tournaments including the Presidents Cup, Junior Nationals, and the Junior Olympics which have taken place in Texas, Washington, California, and Hawaii. As a result of her participation in tournaments and hard work, Mja’s sensei sent her judo accomplishments, such as 3rd place at the Junior Olympics, to the United States Judo Federation, has resulted in, 14 year old, Mja’s greatest accomplishment yet. She will be traveling on Sunday December 17th to Fukuoka, Japan to partake in a world wide, invite only tournament for girls ages 13 and 14. She will be there for 14 days and will be given continuous training and later participate in team and expedition matches for the tournament. Due to Mja being on the United States Judo Federation team, the United States Judo Federation is paying for her food and hotel. Unfortunately, they did not pay for Mja’s airline ticket. Learning of her invitation earlier this year, she was able to make enough money, on her own without her parents help, by submitting animals and art work into fairs which helped Mja to purchase her ticket to Japan. Mja will be the only girl from Idaho to compete in the tournament, but will be joined by other girls from the U.S. Mja’s goal for the tournament is to be in the upper bracket and have a position on the podium. Good luck Mja!