Edmonton, May 16, 2019 – Thursday was the first day of the Canadian Open Judo Championships at the Butterdome of the University of Alberta.
The competition started on Thursday morning with the kata tournament, with many of Canada’s best athletes under the spotlight, including Gord Okamura and Kelly Palmer, long-time partners and regular faces on the podium at the international level.
The duo decided that this year would be their last year competing on the circuit after 14 years together, and they’re making sure to leave on a high note. After winning a gold and a silver medal at the Pan-American Kata Championships in Peru just a few weeks ago, they are back with two gold medals in Edmonton in Katame No Kata and Kime No Kata.
“We are absolutely delighted with today’s results,” said Palmer. “We are qualified for the World Championships later this year, and we will enjoy every second of it, but there is no doubt in our minds that now is the right moment to retire, before our performance level starts to drop. We will keep training in judo, and I was asked to be a kata coach for other duos, which is something that I plan on doing. I might even compete again with other partners, but I don’t think I’ll be able to reach the same level I did with Gord.”
“We want to thank Judo Canada for their support over the years. They gave us so many great opportunities with kata clinics and tournaments, they were behind each medal that we have won,” he added.
Danielle Ferland and Aiko Lachaine, who also won a gold medal in Peru, were crowned again in Edmonton in Ju No Kata. Martin Vallières and Patrick Roffi won gold in Goshin Jutsu, and Bailey Hu and Shane Rooney triumphed in Nage No Kata.
Cheyenne Fiandor and Jeff Allen Ne Waza Grand Champions
The Ne Waza tournament took place on the mats at the Butterdome after katas. Cheyenne Fiandor and Jeff Allen, after winning in their respective categories, were back to win the overall champion titles.
It was a surprise win for Allen, from the Huntsville Judo Club, who didn’t know there would be an overall category until he won the title in +81 kg. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I guess it all worked out in the end!” he commented. “I’ve been fighting for about 8 years, and I first joined with my son just for fun, but I’ve been doing better and better each year, and it’s great to win the overall champion title now, I’m very happy with that.”
Because there were only 2 fighters in his category, Allen had to defeat Chris Hodgson twice to get through to the grand champion finale, where he also won against Brennan Jolley and Vincent Marticotte. Jeff Allen will be competing again in the tournament in +100 kg, first as a Veteran on Friday, then as a Senior on Sunday.
On the women’s side, the title was won by Cheyenne Fiandor (-63 kg) from the Nanaimo Judo Club. Fiandor had planned to fight alongside her sister during the weekend, but her sister couldn’t attend after breaking her leg just days before leaving for Edmonton. “I was nervous coming in, because I’ve missed trainings to be with her at the hospital. It was sad to know she wouldn’t be coming, but it gave me the motivation to win, I wanted to get that medal for her,” said Fiandor.
Cheyenne eliminated Sienna McCorkell in her category, then Jennifer Nguyen and Chelys Vallejo in the grand champion tournament. It was a first national title for her, after winning a few bronze medals in the past. “It had been a while since the last time I competed at Nationals, because I took a year off to go to school. It’s great to come back this year and see that I’m stronger than ever!” she added.
The Canadian Open Judo Championships will be continuing tomorrow with the U18 and Veteran shiai athletes competing for national titles. Go to judocanada.tv for live streaming and the complete results of the event.
Written by Sarah Mailhot for Judo Canada
Chief Operating Officer