June 16th, 2024

Local-area sports icons presented with Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal

By Lethbridge Herald on December 12, 2022.

From Left, Graham Kelly, Craig Patton, Andrews Walmsley, Trevor Hardy, Joe Meli and Brad Dersch were presented with their Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medals on Sunday at Lethbridge Sport Council’s community room. Missing: Michael Tamura.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame handed out the  Queen Elizabeth II’s  Platinum Jubilee Medal (Alberta) to Lethbridge and area recipients on Sunday at the Lethbridge Sport Council community room.

The commemorative medal was created  by the province to mark the 70th anniversary of her late  Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada.

The medal is being awarded to 7,000 Albertans throughout 2022 in recognition of  their significant contributions  and achievements.

Joe Meli was a medal recipient for his impact in Judo.

Meli obtained his first-degree black belt in Judo at 16-years-old.

Since then he had become an 11-time judo champion, a three-time Canadian World Judo Championship team member, a four-time Olympic team member and only competed in three due to a Canada boycott in 1980.

“Yeah, it was very nice,” said Meli.

“I was a bit surprised when I found out about all of this. So I’m very honoured. It’s kind of neat to be inducted with some of the other individuals that I’ve kind of heard of and met before along the way. So it’s very nice that there were other Judo people in Alberta that were also receiving the award.”

Meli retired after the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and a couple years later started his own Judo school.

“I had a lot of fun (and) met a lot of great young kids that are very good friends to this day,” said Meli.

He is still involved in Judo Alberta as he the chairman of the Alberta Grading Committee Board.

He was an Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee in 1996, a Judo Canada Hall of Fame inductee  in 1998 and was the recipient of the Hokkaido Cup in 2017.

Trevor Hardy was another medal recipient and is entrenched a career that took him from an athlete to a trainer.

He competed in his first kickboxing match at 19 years old and shortly after was introduced to boxing.

“It was great,” said Hardy.

“It was nice to be recognized alongside these great coaches and athletes and a real honour for me.” 

Hardy won  the Golden Gloves in the heavyweight class  and won the super heavyweight class in 1995 in the same weekend  and considers those his highlights.

He  was a North American kickboxing champion,Canadian kickboxing champion on two occassions  and jujutsu champion in his career.

“The community of Lethbridge has just always been exceptional,” said Hardy.

“And having had the pleasure to work with the amazing coaches and parents and athletes of southern Alberta, has been a pleasure and an honour for over 25 years now.”

He now  trains both amateur and professional athletes.

Other medal winners: Craig Patton (F.P.Walshe School coach/Rugby Pioneer), Andrew Walmsley (F.P. Walshe rugby coach), Michael Tamura (Judo), Brad Dersch (PE teacher and coach and Graham Kelly (CFL historian).

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