Judo Canada is proud to announce the appointment of Antoine Valois-Fortier as coach of the senior national team. The recently retired athlete and 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist will guide a revitalized team that is poised to embark on a new Olympic cycle leading to Paris and beyond.
Nicolas Gill did not hesitate for a moment when his former protégé expressed an interest in retiring from competition and taking on a new role, while remaining at the heart of judo.
“Since Michel Almeida left in 2019, we’ve been reflecting on our coaching structure. Antoine’s retirement as an athlete created a unique opportunity for us. We’ve been anticipating his arrival for a long time. He was the obvious choice for us. He’s a first-rate candidate for our group,” Gill explained enthusiastically.
Although he acted as coach for few weeks in Europe in October, Valois-Fortier will officially take up his new duties on January 1, 2022.
He will lead a revamped coaching squad that will include newcomer Daniela Krukower of Argentina. Krukower, the 2003 world champion, will share responsibility for the junior and U23 judokas with Sasha Mehmedovic. Mehmedovic will pursue his involvement with the federation after having done a tremendous job as assistant coach of the senior Canadian team for the past two years.
Returning personnel Alexandre Émond, National Training Centre coach, and Janusz Pawłowski, assistant national coach, will round out the team.
Jean-Pierre Cantin will not be returning to his coaching position at Judo Canada. The federation would like to thank Cantin for his hard work over the past six years and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
The right person for the job
As he learns about his new role as coach, Valois-Fortier will face numerous challenges. However, as Gill explained, the transition will take place in an atmosphere of trust and collaboration.
“The dynamic will definitely change. Our main objective will be to ensure our coaching team is united and cohesive. In order to take advantage of each person’s strengths, we’ll have to be flexible in our division of labour. They’ll have to adapt to the changes. Antoine’s biggest responsibility will be to coordinate it all. We’re very happy to have this group working with us for the next few years,” said Gill.
In fact, Judo Canada’s Chief Executive Officer and High Performance Director is full of praise for the new coach, whose track record is impressive, both athletically and academically.
“Not all athletes have what it takes to become a coach, but Antoine does,” remarked Gill. “His personal qualities, as well as his excellent technical skills, make him the perfect candidate for the job. His understanding of the technical and tactical elements of high-level judo, along with his ambition, motivation and outstanding work ethic, have made him a success.”
The excitement is palpable at Judo Canada, and expectations are high, but given Valois-Fortier’s many accomplishments over the years, the future looks bright.
“He’s the perfect spokesperson for Canadian judo. It’s thanks to his accomplishments that we’re where we are today. We grew up alongside him, so it was only natural for us to give him the opportunity to continue his work. He’s been the driving force behind the development of our programs, and we expect to become even more successful with him at the helm,” concluded Gill.