After 3 days of tournament at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, Quebec is still ranked first in medals. However, in the U16 categories, Alberta performed better with 6 gold medals, 3 silver and 7 bronze, while Quebec won 5 gold, 7 silver and 12 bronze. Ewan Beaton, Head Coach for Judo Alberta, was very pleased with the results of his athletes so far: “We were a little tentative with the results yesterday, but the team performed well in general. We knew we had a strong structure for U16, we were confident in the quality of our athletes, and they really showed their talent today. This year’s plan was to at least match what we had done last year, and see what happens next. The most important thing is that judo in Canada progresses. For this championship, we’re competing against each other, but in the end we’re all on the same team, and no matter what province our athletes come from, we just want to make sure that as many Canadian judokas as possible make it to international level and represent our country.”
Jérémy Le Bris, Sports Development Director for BC, was also happy with the results so far. “We had a good day yesterday with 13 medals, compared to 12 last year for the same categories. That places us third in U18. Our team this year is the biggest we’ve ever had with 119 athletes, and we’re hoping we can still grow next year. We’ve seen some really good results with our Early Bloomer program, in which we put 14 year-old athletes in the U16 program and let them fight in that category during Nationals. We had 2 gold medals from these athletes today, so we can see that we’re on the right track. We also have a lot of support from the parents, they help us a lot, which allows us to focus on what we do best, coaching our athletes.”
Victor Gougeon-Gazé (-66 kg), from Montreal, successfully defended the national title he won last year in the U16 category. Winning today’s medal was a walk in the park for him, after winning a silver medal as a U18 yesterday; it took him less than 30 seconds to win by ippon. “I’m happy and proud of my gold medal, but I’m staying humble. I wasn’t really nervous before my fights, and I was expecting today’s medal. I was much more nervous yesterday, and that silver medal means more to me than the gold one I got today.”
Constantin Gabun (-73 kg), also from Montreal, won the gold medal in the U21 category. This year was his fourth participation to Nationals. He had already won the title the first time he competed for Nationals, but last year he went home with a silver. “I wasn’t nervous, because I told my family I wouldn’t come back home without a gold medal. I had no doubt that I could do it, and I knew I could win it quickly. I won all my fights by ippon, and I won the final in 12 seconds. I’m really happy with that result, and I’m thankful for everyone who helped me get here.”
Last but not least, Marie Besson (-52 kg), 20 years old, won the women’s title by ippon. Marie is no stranger to the podium: this year’s medal was her eleventh gold medal during Nationals. “I woke up early today, and the fights started much later than we thought, so I was pretty tired and nervous. I won the first 2 fights pretty easily. The third one was a little harder, but I still won. Luckily, for the final, everything fell into place, I did what I had planned with my coach, and it all went very well.”
Tomorrow will be the last day of the Canadian Open Judo Championships with the senior athletes, as well as the Pan-American Championships for visually impaired athletes. Everything will be streamed online on www.judocanada.tv, where you can also find all the results. The schedule can be found on www.judonationals.org.
Written by Sarah Mailhot for Judo Canada