Health and Fitness – When a hobby becomes life changing

Source: University of Canterbury

Taking up judo five years ago has changed the course of Lorcan Fivet’s life. He has the Olympics to work towards, he has changed his studies to a sports-related qualification and he has gained more personal confidence than he thought was possible.

Lorcan trains twice a day, and balances his passion for judo with his Bachelor of Sport Coaching majoring in Sports Science studies at the University of Canterbury (UC) and a job at UC’s Recreation Centre.

The training has paid off, with national titles in the junior men’s category in 2017 and 2018, a world ranking of 13th in June 2019, and a first senior men national title in 2019.

He is heading off to Brazil on 14 January for an intensive training opportunity for almost three months, then competing in Argentina, Peru and Chile, as part of a dream to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“I am always looking to improve my judo and New Zealand is limited in the diversity of fighters, as not a lot of people are doing judo here. I did a competition last year in Hong Kong and there was a training camp there. There were so many different styles of judo, so I was hooked.”

Lorcan has his sights set on the 2024 Olympics and that means full-time training for the next four years. “I want to take it as far as possible,” he says.

He has been passionate about judo since he first tried it five years ago. “I tried it and loved it. After the first year I was competing and training 12 times a week. I went through the grades to black belt.”

He teaches the three to 10 year-old class at his club, Premier Equipe Judo, and “would definitely recommend judo, especially for young kids”.

Along with fitness, coordination, discipline and coaching skills, judo has given Lorcan another important life lesson.

“I used to be extremely introverted; I hated any kind of social interaction. My first two or three years of judo I would stay at the back, in the shadows, and avoid attention. Ever since I started judo, my parents and coach said the same thing, that it takes you out of your shell and gives you so much confidence. It is physically taxing, but it’s an amazing feeling, and it helps cognition. There are just an insane amount of positive effects.”

Judo also influenced Lorcan’s study choices. “I studied speech and language pathology in 2018 but soon realised that I want to do something that I can mix with my judo. I’ve particularly taken a liking to the psychological aspect of sports so I would like to become a sports psychologist or something of the sort. 

“I want to do something that can bring me as an athlete to understand my barriers, whether they be physical or mental. I like the thought of helping others, and by being an athlete who studies sports psychology I hope to get a first-hand understanding of what other athletes must go through so I can help others in the same position as me.”

Finding the balance of training and study has taken quite some effort, he says. “Training full time and studying can be difficult and I’ve had moments where I need to sacrifice trainings and tournaments to complete assignments.

“At first, I found it difficult to find a balance between study and training but once I got into a routine it became much easier. In addition to that, I love my current study so that is also an important reason why I am able to balance these two so well. My parents made it clear that the path I chose was going to be a difficult one, but they also stressed that they will support me as much as they can.

“As for Brazil I will be gone until the end of March, which means that I will need to take a distance study course until I get back. I am very nervous as I’d hate for my grades to suffer because of this, but I’m confident that once I find my routine, I will be alright.”