June 25th, 2024

Lethbridge Judo Club sends large contingent to Canada Winter Games

By Lethbridge Herald on February 28, 2023.

Herald photo by JUSTIN SEWARD Charlize Medilo, in the blue uniform, and Addyson Tamura practice an arm lock position earlier this month at the Lethbridge Judo Club. Both LJC members are competing in the Canada Winter Games this week in PEI.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Judo Club is sending nine athletes to Canada Winter Games as a part of Team Alberta, and will kick off competition today in Prince Edward Island.

That is the largest contingent from one club of the 14 participants going from the province.

LJC head coach and Team Alberta coach Russ Gallant started working with the current LJC group in 2011 and remembers sending one athlete that year.

In 2015, LJC sent a few more to Prince George, while 2019 in Red Deer, half the Alberta team was from LJC and the Alberta women’s team won their first ever gold.

“So each year, we’ve been gaining momentum and basically creating top players in Alberta that are coming directly from Lethbridge here,” said Gallant.

With sending more athletes to each of the last number of Games, Gallant thinks the success is due to kids committing to the high performance program.

“So we’ve been running the regional training centre here supported by Judo Canada, the national sports organization, and basically since 2016, we’ve been running that here,” said Gallant.

“And so now we’re on seven years. So we’ve gained momentum through that. The training program here is working, and at six days a week training, it’s paying off.”

The LJC contingent that are participating already have national pedigree.

“So they’ve all won medals at a national level already,” said Gallant.

“So all of them know their competition. They’re well prepared and well-seasoned. So we have quite the experience bunch going.”

Gallant would like to think that there will be some gold medals coming home.

“Well I think everything is relevant to the work you put in,” said Gallant, on how to succeed at the Canada Winter Games.

“So these kids have been putting in six days a week, basically for years,    minus COVID time. So some of them have been involved in this program for six or seven years leading up to this event. So this work started years ago. So it’s work, work, work, work, work, result. You don’t just wake up with the result. You have to put the time and the work in. So here we are now with the opportunity to showcase these kids (at) the Canada Games with the national level.”

Gallant thinks the contingent from Alberta is going to be really good.

“I think the girls team, when we enter the team competition again, will stand a shot at being the champs again. I think we have the team to defend the title,” said Gallant.

“It’s just going to be on performance that day but we have the team. The boys team, last time,  got third place. I’d like to think that we could stay there, maybe improve to a second. I find it quite tough to beat some of the Quebec players in the heavier weights. We don’t have heavy weight boys in Alberta going. So we’re going to automatically lose out on some of those spots, right. Quebec has a full team in that department.”

Gallant will be joined by his son Troy at the competition.

“Well I’m sure they’re training just like we are — training to be at the top,” said Troy, on the competition.

“So honestly they’re all great fighters. So it could go either way. You know I think it’s just who has the better day that day and whose really wanting it.”

Tory is proud to represent his province, as he is the only fighter on the team in the minus 66 kilogram category.

Addyson Tamura will be in the minus 48 kilogram class.

“Definitely meeting new people and being with my team and my friends ,” she said.

“I’m excited to fight.”

Also from LJC going to the Games include Conor Hazell, Maralgoo Batbayar, Aden Kim, Aliya Koliaska, Callie Render, Charlize Isabelle Medilo,  manager Ewan Beaton and Loic Beaton.

Judo competition is today, Thursday  and Saturday and more information can be found at http://www.2023canadagames.ca.

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