BY SARA HANAFI
Conestoga’s golden girl has done it again.
World champion Muaythai boxer and Conestoga College Aboriginal student Ashley Nichols brawled her way through the 2012 Ottawa Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open to win three gold medals and one bronze.
The competition was held on Oct 20 and 21. Athletes from Ontario, Quebec, and even one from New York competed over the two days.
Nichols competed with the Cambridge MAS Academy of Martial Arts for Team Renzo Gracie in four different weight divisions. These included the featherweight division and the absolute light/heavy division, which combines all weight classes into one category. The first division she competed in was the women’s featherweight gi division, where combatants are required to wear a gi (a jacket tied closed with a martial arts belt).
Her first challenger was the 2011 Ottawa Open champion. “I was able to hold the dominant position,” Nichols said. It paid off – she beat her opponent and won a gold medal.
Nichols, who weighs 125 lbs., conquered her next two rivals in higher weight classes as well, including a competitor who weighed 200 lbs.
“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is going to be a challenge,’” she said. With 30 seconds left in the match, Nichols managed to get her opponent in a guillotine hold, forcing her competitor to tap out.
“Everything happened really fast,” she said. “I didn’t want to get into a position where she could use force over me.”
The final bout Nichols participated in was the women’s light/heavy absolute division. After fighting for the entire duration of the match, Nichols found her and her opponent tied.
“She was a really strong wrestler,” Nichols said. Both competitors had an advantage point over each other during the match. “Neither of us gained any actual points though,” she said.
However, a winner had to be chosen, and Nichols’ rival was picked by referee’s discretion, leaving Nichols with a bronze medal.
Her medal haul is pretty impressive for a Muaythai boxer who has only been practising Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for one year.
Jeff Harrison, Nichols’ Jiu-Jitsu coach, said he is very proud of her achievements in combat sports.
“It is great to see her bring her blend of physical talent, mental toughness and good technique to the mats in competition,” he said.
Nichols said, “I think (Jiu-Jitsu) is more by feel, since you have to feel the person’s weight and make sure you’re stable. It’s a lot of muscle endurance, and if you have a lot of muscle strength, that helps too.”
Nichols explained the main difference between the two is that there is no striking in Jiu-Jitsu, and that your moves are “always evolving as you go through the match.”
“It was a good experience and a great weekend,” she said.
Nichols’ next competition is the Ontario Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Provincials on Nov. 24, held at Centennial College in Toronto.