After a year and a half of being sidelined by the pandemic, several Canadians made their return to competition this week at the World Championships Kata. The following is a recap of the 12th edition of the event, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal.
Shane Rooney and Xiao Kang Hu were the only Canadians to advance to a final round. Following the qualifiers, they held the third-place slot for their group. They then scored 402.5 points to take sixth place in Katame-No-Kata. The event was won by Japan’s Ryuji Kabata and Toshiji Odate, with 428 points.
It was a good showing for the Canadian duo, who had hoped to make a big comeback. “Shane and Xiao Kang were hoping for a medal. They performed well, but we have to keep in mind that it was the World Championships and therefore extremely competitive. Sixth in the world…that’s very impressive!” said judge Mohamed Hassani, referring to Rooney and Hu’s performance.
Kelly Palmer and Wesley Enns also participated in the event, but did not reach the final. They earned 385 points in the qualification round and finished sixth in their group. It was the Albertans’ first appearance as a team since Gord Okamura, Palmer’s former partner, announced his retirement.
“They form a unique duo. In judo, height is important, especially in kata. Kelly’s partner is much taller than he is. We don’t see that very often! They were happy with their result in their first competition together,” continued Hassani.
Erin Reim took part in her first World Championships alongside Marika Boileau. For Boileau, it was her international debut, after travelling back and forth between Sept-Îles and Montréal to train with her partner.
Although the distance between them limited their ability to prepare, the Québécoises finished 11th on Tuesday, with 303.5 points, among highly experienced competitors in Nage-No-Kata.
“Considering the efforts they put in, and despite the few opportunities they had [to train together] compared to other teams who live in the same city, their performance was very impressive,” said Hassani.
Niels Neumann and Eric Faes of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the event, with 415 points.
In Ju-No-Kata, mother-daughter duo Danielle Ferland and Meggie Aiko Lachaine had considered retiring from competition a few times in the past few years. After the long break caused by the pandemic, however, they decided to return to the mats, where they placed ninth in their group, with 331 points.
After his partner announced his retirement, Martin Vallières joined forces with Mario Pageau in Kime-No-Kata. The two athletes ended up with 441 points and a sixth-place finish in their group.
Tony Walby Makes History
Tony Walby, who competed at both the London and Rio Paralympics, became the first blind judoka to compete in the World Championships Kata.
The Ontarian teamed up with Allyn Takahashi in Goshin Jutsu. Together, they earned 506 points and finished sixth in their group. Although they did not make it to the finals, it was an impressive showing.
“What a wonderful surprise! It was a great experience not only for him, but for all of us. Kata is a very visual discipline. It was very impressive to watch Tony perform. All of Canada should be proud of him. He’s an excellent role model and he proved that it’s possible for blind athletes to practice kata,” affirmed Hassani.
“We didn’t win any medals, but these are great results we can build on,” he concluded.