Montreal, January 11, 2017 – There were many poignant scenes at the launch of Judo Canada’s new High Performance Club. Close to 160 athletes, coaches, and officials, all of whom have participated in either World Championships or Olympic / Paralympic Games, were gathered at the gala event, which was held Saturday evening at Montreal’s Hotel Universel.
It was the first time that all four of Canada’s Olympic medallists—Doug Rogers, Mark Berger, Nicolas Gill, and Antoine Valois-Fortier—were in the same place at the same time. Judo Canada took the opportunity to pay a touching tribute to Doug Rogers, who paved the way for the country’s subsequent champions.
Rogers, who was Canada’s first Olympic medallist, received his seventh Dan for meritorious contribution at the Club’s opening gala. Moved to tears from the first moments of the tribute, the 1964 Olympic silver medallist expressed his gratitude for the honour that was bestowed on him at the special gathering.
“The highlight of the evening was without a doubt the crowd’s reception of the guest of honour,” reflected Nicolas Gill, Interim CEO and High Performance Director at Judo Canada.
A standing ovation of several minutes’ duration made the moment especially memorable for the judoka, who spent most of his career in Quebec.
The High Performance Club’s inaugural soiree also set the scene for the induction of five women into Judo Canada’s Hall of Fame. Lyne Poirier, Nathalie Gosselin, Luce Baillargeon, Marie-Hélène Chisholm, and Michelle Buckingham have all left their marks on history. For Judo Canada, it was important that their brilliant careers be immortalized.
Saturday’s event was a homecoming of sorts for several of the club’s new members. Many former athletes were reunited with teammates and coaches they hadn’t seen for more than 20 years. A presentation of photos and videos taken from 1956 to 2016 brought back unforgettable memories for the judokas.
To conclude the evening’s events, Nicolas Gill and Louis Jani, President of the High Performance Club, congratulated the 2016 Olympians and offered them a souvenir frame inspired by their Rio 2016 judo gi.
What is Judo Canada’s High Performance Club?
Saturday evening’s event was the first in a series of activities for Judo Canada’s new High Performance Club.
The exclusive group was created to honour and celebrate the athletes, trainers, and officials who have represented Canada at the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, and the World Championships since 1956.
“It is essential to recognize the past in order to inspire future generations,” asserted Louis Jani.
Members will receive a membership card giving them access to Canadian events, VIP lounges, and other activities reserved exclusively for the High Performance Club.
A section of the national federation’s website will serve to commemorate high performance achievements. It will present the members of the club and highlight important historical events.