Montreal, January 8th, 2013 – Judo Canada congratulates long-time coach Mr. Hiroshi Nakamura, who will be awarded Member of the Order of Canada this year. On December 30, 2012, Governor General David Johnston announced that 91 Canadians – including Sensei Nakamura – would become Members of the Order of Canada.
The LaSalle, Quebec resident will be honoured “for his role in developing the sport of judo in Canada, notably as the national head coach. ”
Sensei Nakamura thus becomes the third representative from Judo Canada to be awarded the Order of Canada: Mr. Yoshio Senda (Lethbridge, Alberta) and Mr. Jim Kojima (Richmond, British Columbia) have previously received the honour.
At the age of 26, in 1968, Hiroshi Nakamura arrived in Canada and greatly impacted the advancement of Judo in Eastern Canada, particularly in Quebec. In addition to training generations of athletes and coaches, he also supervised the work of double Olympic medallist Nicolas Gill – who earned a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and bronze medal at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.
“When I arrived in Canada, my goal was to train athletes who would be capable of winning medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships. My second goal was to make judo as popular as hockey – and that’s not easy!” he explains with a laugh. “The third goal I had was to make Canadian Judo history, I believe this appointment to the Order of Canada certainly fulfills that.”
Though no longer actively training the National Team for some time, Mr. Nakamura remains involved in the world of judo, where his influence is felt to this day. Case in point, Mr. Nakamura’s former protégé Nicolas Gill was Antoine Valois-Fortier’s coach at the London 2012 Olympic Games; many will recall Valois-Fortier was the Canadian judoka who earned a bronze medal in the Under 81 kg category.
“I’ve never regretted moving here. When I first arrived in Canada, judo was popular mainly in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta – provinces where a lot of Japanese immigrants lived. There was practically nothing in Quebec, it had to be developed from the ground up. For example, no Quebecois judokas were on the Canadian Team at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, but things began to change in the 1980s.”
Mr. Nakamura will be recognized as Member of the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa later this year.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada