Both Yukon judokas and mixed martial artists stand to profit from a visit by an Olympic athlete this week.
Montreal’s Antoine Valois-Fortier will be in Whitehorse at the end of the week to shake some hands and put on a clinic.
The 22-year-old judoka won a bronze in the 81-kilogram division at the 2012 Olympic Games in London this past July.
“It’s important for me to share my Olympic experience with these youngsters because the London Games were truly the most emotional and exciting times of my entire life,” said Valois-Fortier in a media release. “It was the type of experience I’d been dreaming of my entire career, and I want to show these kids that I’m just a regular guy who worked hard and maybe believed in himself a bit more than most.”
Valois-Fortier will conduct a mixed martial arts (MMA) clinic and a public meet-and-greet on Friday at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel. Judo Yukon, which organized the visit, hopes the clinic will increase ties between the judo and MMA communities. Both of Whitehorse’s MMA clubs, Avalanche MMA and the Chaos Combat Club, have been invited.
“What we’re trying to do is showcase judo to some of these mixed martial artists in town,” said Aaron Jensen, vice-president of Judo Yukon.
Valois-Fortier’s visit was originally supposed to be part of broader sports summit organized by the Yukon government. However, by the time the government decided against the summit, Judo Yukon had already made arrangements for Valois-Fortier to visit.
“Shortly thereafter YTG cancelled the summit, but we already had him booked,” said Jensen. “So we figured, we’re bringing him up anyways, let’s make the most of it.”
Judo Yukon is making the most of it. In addition to the clinic and Valois-Fortier giving instruction at one of the Whitehorse judo clubs on Thursday, the Olympian is going to have a busy Friday giving talks to youngsters.
Since the Yukon’s Department of Education stepped in to fund Valois-Fortier’s visit, on Friday he is visiting Carcross’s Tantalus School, Golden Horn Elementary, Ecole Emilie-Tremblay, Whitehorse Elementary and possibly Elijah Smith Elementary.
He will also present an award at the Gala de Francophonie at the Yukon Arts Centre on Friday.
Valois-Fortier’s MMA clinic at the Westmark begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a public meet-and-greet from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. He leaves early Saturday morning.
Valois-Fortier’s bronze in London was Canada’s first Olympic medal in judo since the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.
“In the judo world, having a guy win a bronze at the Olympics was pretty big,” said Jensen.
For more information, visit www.judoyukon.ca.
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