Yukon green belt judokas lived up to their belt’s colour at a recent national competition.
They took to the mats last week at the 2010 U15, U17 & U20 Canadian Judo Championships last weekend in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although the trip resulted in only one win for the Judo Yukon participants, it provided a chance to experience the highest level of junior competition in Canada.
“All of our Yukon athletes are inexperienced in comparison to their counterparts outside. With the exception of the other territories, we do not get the same number of opportunities to compete, or train with better, more experienced partners,” wrote Yukon coach Aaron Jensen in an e-mail to the News.
“This was all four’s first time competing at this level.”
The Yukon’s lone win came from Lara Bellon in the female U-17 70 kilogram division, defeating a blue belt – one higher than green – from Manitoba.
Bellon lost her two other matches to judokas who went on to take gold and bronze in her division. For the win, Bellon countered a throwing attempting, changing direction to throw her opponent on her back for ippon (a full point).
“Lara started judo under my instruction when we were operating out of Ecole Emilie Tremblay,” wrote Jensen. “Since approximately 2002, Lara has been taught by her father, Michael Bellon, who instructs the Golden Horn Judo Club.
“Upon being selected to our team to travel outside last fall, Lara has been training again with me and the other instructors at Shiroumakai Judo, out of Vanier High School, as well as assisting her father at Golden Horn with younger kids.”
“Training and competing against the best judoka in Canada, I think I learned a lot,” wrote Bellon. “I’d definitely come again – hopefully next year. I just wish there were more people in judo (in the Yukon), so that we could practice with more partners.”
Yukon’s Andrew Jensen also had a tough road at the championships in the male’s U-15 42 kilogram division, taking on eventual gold and bronze medal winners. Although his first match was over in seconds, Andrew gave the eventual gold medalist, Samuel Rousseau from Quebec, a run for his money with a lengthy 45-second bout.
“I made friends from across Canada and I am glad to be able to say that I fought and practiced with kids who are the best in Canada,” wrote Andrew.
Yukon’s Eric Vasseur took a pair of losses in the male’s U-15 55 kilogram division, but went down fighting, forcing his opponents to counter his attacks.
“It was sweet to practice with people who may be better than me. But I still had a chance, not like trying to fight a sensei, where you never even get a chance,” wrote Vasseur. “It was cool to see all the coaches from across Canada teaching us amazing techniques.”
Competing in the female U-15 48 kilogram division, Yukoner Camila Gaw took a pair of losses, but learned she needs sharpen her competitive edge.
“It was neat to meet other people my age who have the same passion for judo that I do,” wrote Gaw. “I learned I need to work on being meaner in my fights.”
The nationals were followed by a training camp, attended by the four Yukoners.
“I wish the camp went longer, I can’t wait to try the new techniques I’ve learned,” added Gaw.
“As a coach, I knew that the kids were going to be up against the best and tried my best to prepare them for it,” wrote Jensen. “I encouraged all of them to adopt the philosophy ‘try your best and never give up.’ Everyone gave their all in the competition and worked hard all week.”
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