Today: Nancy Jewitt-Filteau is an accomplished Judo Champion, but there's one level she hasn't attained - the Olympics
Nancy Jewitt-Filteau had some unfinished business in her chosen sport.
Jewitt Filteau thought her judo career was over and done with when she retired in 1988 after failing to qualify for the Olympic Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.
She had already won a gold medal at the 1986 Commonweath Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a silver medal at the 1983 Pan-American Games in Caracas, Venezuela.
And, in 1992, Jewitt-Filteau was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
"I said, 'That's it. I've attained all that I can attain,' " says 33-year-old Jewitt-Filteau, who was born in Swift Current, raised in Webb and now lives in Moose Jaw. "Then I watched the last Olympics and thought maybe I should try it one more time. I've had friends tell me that I'm crazy."
Crazy or not, there she was, back on the mat at the 1994 U.S. Open in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"I was beating everyone up and eventually won a silver medal," she says. "One of my biggest assets is that I'm strong mentally, plus I'm very quick and agile."
By placing third at the 1995 Pan-American Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Jewitt-Filteau assured Canada of having a spot in the women's over-72-kilogram division. Still, she has to qualify if she hopes to fill that spot herself.
She has had one opportunity to fill that berth. At the world championships in September in Chiba, Japan, Jewitt-Filteau finished 12th with a 1-2 record.
Had she placed eighth or better, she would have automatically earned a berth at the Atlanta Games.
Now, in order to make the Olympics, Jewitt-Filteau will have to win her weight class at the Canadian championships, in Sept Iles, Que.
"I think about the Olympics as one of those lifetime goals," says the 5-foot-4 Jewitt-Filteau, who is a Sport Canada Carded athlete and recieves $430 per month. "I always refer to the Robert Frost poem [WI]The Road Not Taken[WI]. Which one do you take? The well-trodden road or the overgrown one? I think in life we all have those little paths.
"I enjoy the level of quality of fighting at the national or international level. The hard thing is to train with a family. It takes so much time. Sure there are other things I would like to explore but I'll probably always be dragging around the judo mat."
"I've always been involved in coaching and teaching," she says. "I enjoy seeing others achieve things."
Jewitt-Filteau completed at her first national senior championship in 1978 (the only Saskatchewan athlete there) and won her first national title in 1980. In total, she's won three gold and four silver medals at the nationals.
Jewitt-Filteau and her husband Ron have been married for 11 years and both work for Agriculture Canada. They have two children - Tyler, 7, and Justin, 3 1/2, - plus a dog, two cats, two hedgehogs and a tank full of goldfish.
Juggling work, family and a rigorous training schedule is one of the hardest things Jewitt-Filteau has had to master.
"It's hard enough when you're single and you don't have a family," she says. "I love my kids and husband dearly. Sometimes I feel like I'm neglecting them. I try to do little things at home with the kids whether it's read a book or watch a movie.
"I don't have much R and R time to myself. By 8:15 p.m., I'm out the door to judo. Sometimes after judo I go and run stairs and then do weights because that's the only time I can get there. Sometimes I wish the day was more than 24 hours long."
In addition to training at the Moose Jaw Judo Club and doing weights at the Moose Jaw Athletic Club, Jewitt-Filteau travels to regina once or twice a week and trains with the YMCA Judo Club and provincial coach Kim Bergy.
"The club is excellent in Moose Jaw but you can always benefit from having different training partners," she says. "I've had partners young and old,men and women, small and large.
I look at people and they say, 'I'm not much of a competition for you.' But I can learn from them."
Appeared in the Regina Leader-Post March 14, 1996