Clarke aiming for gold during third trip to boxing nationals

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Jarid Clarke from the Swift Current Friendship Centre Boxing Club digs into the heavy bag during his final training session before travelling to Quebec City for the National Junior and Youth Championships which run from Nov. 19 to 23.

Jarid Clarke has every intention of making an impact during this final trip to the National Junior and Youth Boxing Championships.

Clarke, 17, will be in the ring at the National Junior and Youth Championships hosted in Quebec City from Tuesday to Saturday and he is hoping that third time is the charm for winning a national title.

During last year's championships hosted in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, he walked away with a bronze medal, but he is aiming to go out on top during his last year of eligibility in the youth age division. He is competing in the 60 kilogram (132 pounds) weight class, and this is the last year he is eligible for the youth division which is for competitors aged 17 and under.

"I think I've trained harder for this than any time in my life," he admitted during his final training session at the Swift Current Friendship Centre Boxing Club before leaving for nationals.

"This year I feel more confident than the other two years I went," he added. "I'm in better shape and I'm older so of course your confidence grows when you get older."

After being exposed to the competition at two previous trips to nationals, Clarke put in a lot of training while preparing to face the best boxers from across Canada.

"I just trained really, really hard for two months. I got up to sparring eight rounds a night. I did a lot of cardio, a lot of running," he said. "Lots of rounds on the bag and lots of rounds sparring."

"The harder you train the easier the fight is. That's what I've been keeping in my head so every night that I push myself then I just think that the fight will be even easier."

While looking back at his first two trips to nationals, he admits that getting a chance to be exposed to the best youth boxers during his national debut in 2011 was important to his development in the sport.

"I've been thinking about that lately and it has actually helped a lot because I'll be one of the only guys there that this is my third year there, and it just got me used to the whole environment and what guys are like down there. It definitely helped out."

During his second trip to nationals he earned a bronze medal in the 57 kilogram weight class. He was happy with his first fight against an opponent from British Columbia, but he ended up losing to a competitor from Ontario in his second bout.

"I was zoned in. Nothing was distracting me from my first fight. In my second fight I just couldn't get in the zone as much. I still fought a pretty good fight but I didn't win the second one so I brought home a bronze medal."

This year Clarke does not intend to hold anything back in the ring.

"My game plan is just to be really aggressive this year because they've changed the scoring. The scoring isn't just counted on just each clean punch is a point, it's like the professionals with the winner of the round getting a 10 and the other getting a seven, eight, or nine. So I'm just going to be really aggressive and hopefully that works."

Clarke has aspirations to box professionally, so this national opportunity is important in moving up the rankings to get noticed for his ability.

"I look at some professional fighters and some of them are world champions and they hold the title at age 20. And I want to be a professional one day, and if you think about it I really don't have much time left to rank up in the amateurs."

Results from Clarke's bouts at the National Junior and Youth Boxing Championships will be posted at swbooster.com.

Organizations: Swift Current Friendship Centre Boxing Club

Geographic location: Quebec City, Swift Current

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