Judokas return to the tatami in Alberta
Montreal, June 23rd, 2020 – Nine Canadian judokas in the running to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics resume sparring training in Lethbridge, Alberta today. They will be there for a period of three weeks to prepare for the upcoming relaunch of international competitions.
These athletes, as well as a limited number of management personnel, will be the only ones to have access to a club, which is one of the regional training centres of Judo Canada. They will reside in a nearby hotel in a “bubble,” without contact with the local population.
“It is a concept designed to minimize risks and ensure everyone’s safety. They will train, eat and live together exclusively,” said Nicolas Gill, Chief Executive Officer and High Performance Director.
Last Wednesday, the Quebec government announced its third phase of deconfinement, which included access to indoor sports facilities. While the INS Quebec dojo, where the federation is based, is now open to athletes, the practice of combat sports is still prohibited in Quebec, because social distancing cannot be respected.
Judo Canada has always been careful to respect public health directives since the start of the pandemic. The athletes have been restricted to stay at home and only resumed group training from a distance last week when INS Quebec reopened. However, we cannot predict when sparring will be allowed in Quebec and time is running out for the judokas to get ready to resume competition.
“The pressure to resume as quickly as possible came from the international federation which is doing everything in its power to resume the season in September,” says Nicolas Gill. “Our mandate remains to achieve results at the Olympic Games, and it became necessary to allow athletes to train in safe places. Having gone through the options, the Lethbridge facility is the perfect place for us right now.”
Nicolas Gill says he is monitoring the situation closely in Canada and elsewhere in the world. Judo Canada still has the luxury of having access to facilities inside the Montreal Olympic Park and the evolution of deconfinement in Quebec will certainly have an impact on the training of Canadian judokas.
“The athletes see this journey with a mixture of happiness and apprehension. We are aware that this is a drastic change and that it is almost a second confinement for them,” said Nicolas Gill.
Finding a place to train with sparring has become essential for Canada to remain competitive on the international stage, while different nations have imposed different confinement measures in recent months.
Canadian judokas in Lethbridge:
Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (-63 kg)
Antoine Bouchard (-73 kg)
Etienne Briand (-81 kg)
Zachary Burt (-90 kg)
Mohab El Nahas (-90 kg)
Shady El Nahas (-100 kg)
Arthur Margelidon (-73 kg)
Jacob Valois (-66 kg)
Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81 kg)