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Montreal warming up for Grand Prix
11 Jun 2019 10:05
Less than a month to go before the opening of the Grand Prix in Canada (July 5-7, 2019). Canada is steadily increasing power in the world of judo and with the rivalry between Jessica Klimkait and Christa Deguchi the battle started a whole new level for the Canadians. A luxury that was never reached, a battle that was never seen.
Anthony Diao is often guest writer for Judo Canada and he describes the history of Canadian judo in connection to French judo. Soon Montreal is center of the judo world and Diao saw how this new generation sets Canada on the map.
“With Antoine Valois-Fortier’s steadiness and Kyle Reyes’s sparks in the previous Olympiad, more names were added, increasingly regular and numerous. Weekend after weekend, names like Kelita Zupancic, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, Arthur Margelidon, Antoine Bouchard or Shady El Nahas were more and more often heard during final blocs. Since the beginning of 2018, the intense rivalry between Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait tinted red and white the epicentre of the U57 kg, a category traditionally dominated by Asians. “I don’t remember fighting against Canadian girls during my junior years,” remembers Hélène Receveaux, from France, World medallist in that category in 2017. “However, during my first Senior World Championships in 2015, in Astana, I was eliminated by Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard. Since then, she went up to -63 kg, and the other two took command. After having fought both of them in training or in tournaments, I’m convinced their rivalry boost the team. I was in a similar situation in the race for the last Olympics, with Automne Pavia, who had to win a European title in the final stretch to earn a spot on the team for Rio.”
Gill and Valois-Fortier generations
Stronger with the Others. Amongst the attentive observer of this increasing power, those in the best position are those who went there. In a previous post, we had mentioned the short, but positive experience of Alister Ward (U66 kg). His point of view is supported by his friend Mewen Ferey Mondésir, 26, who has already represented France and Algeria, then came back to a first-division level in France in 2016. “I spent three weeks at the National Training Centre in Montreal when Alister was there. It’s great to see the dynamics in place. For the athletes of my generation, Canadian judo was Nicolas Gill and Antoine Valois-Fortier.
Today, you have U73 kg, U100 kg, the new generation coming in… What did I see while I was there? I saw a team welcoming foreign partners with a smile. A team in which the selection criteria are clear, where the arithmetic is worth more than the emotions. A team where competence is found, wherever it is. If it’s from elsewhere, it’ll be from elsewhere. The staff is Canadian, Polish, Portuguese, experimented, young… Simply put, you’re evolving in an atmosphere where it’s clear you can become stronger with the others.” Antoine Lamour, -90 kg, first division of Sainte-Geneviève Sports, made similar comments after coming to the National Training Centre in Montreal in August 2018 with his teammate Maxime Flament. “Thinking of what was coming in the fall, we were both looking for a training camp in a foreign country none of us knew. I was just out of a knee surgery, and I needed some fresh air. Kate Guica, after spending two seasons with us at Saint-Geneviève, gave us Nicolas Gill’s number. Surprisingly, despite our level that was slightly below what could be expected from a country like France, they were all simply incredible. Accommodation, facilities, they made sure we would feel comfortable. Even before we got there, we had a training program, and everything just kept going that way. I really felt the spirit of judo while I was there.”
Read the full story and more history on Canadian judo here, all written by Anthony Diao.
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