Judokas set for B.C. Winter Games
The sound of bodies crashing off the mat reverberated through Kamloops Judo Club (KJC).
For some of the athletes, it was just another Thursday night practise, but, for three of the club’s members, it was a chance to fine-tune their skills ahead of the B.C. Winter Games.
“It’s not just a provincial tournament,” KJC sensei Kerry Landygo said of the Games, which get underway in Vernon on Thursday, Feb. 23, and wrap up on Sunday, Feb. 26.
“It’s a B.C. Games. It might be the biggest event that they’ll ever be at or it might be a jumping point.”
Denis MacLean, Jarek Masson and Chantell Nagy will represent KJC at the Games, which will feature 15 sports and more than 1,100 athletes aged nine to 17.
Megan Hanks, Drew Ramsay and Darcy Werner from Aberdeen Judo Academy will also compete in Vernon.
In total, there will be 32 athletes, six coaches and two adult supervisors from the River City on the Thompson-Okanagan (Zone 2) team.
MacLean, a 15-year-old South Kamloops secondary student, will get to see how he stacks up against the province’s best in his age class.
“I’m excited to fight new people,” said MacLean, a blue belt.
“It’s probably the biggest tournament I’ve been to.”
Landygo, who will officiate in Vernon, attended the B.C. Winter Games as an athlete in the late 1980s.
He said the experience fueled his desire to achieve greater things in his judo career.
“It does something to you,” said Landygo, who represented B.C. in judo at multiple national tournaments.
“It makes you want to go that much further.”
There will be only one competition mat at the Games, meaning athletes will have a chance to perform in front of larger-than-usual crowds.
“You’re the focal point of everybody,” Landygo said.
Watching closely during the competition will be members of Team B.C.’s coaching staff.
KJC sensei Henry Uyeda said the provincial coaches will be on the lookout for new talent.
“B.C. coaches are always watching,” Uyeda said.
“They will have clinics and you can go there if you get recognized by B.C. coaches.”
Uyeda wants his students to win at the Games and earn the approval of the provincial team’s brass.
That winning mentality seems to have rubbed off on the three KJC members attending the Games.
“I want to get at least a medal,” said Nagy, a 14-year-old Brocklehurst middle school student.
Landygo said earning a medal would be nice, but the experience will be a memorable one, win or lose.
“You have to experience it to know what I’m talking about,” he said.
“It’s a cool thing. It gives you goosebumps.”
Kamloops contingent going to the Games
Curling — Corryn Brown, Samantha Fisher, Sydney Fraser and Erin Pincott.
Gymnastics — Taylor Berthelot, Jason Dahlgren, Emily Matthews, Meghan McGillivray, Jennaya Motokado and Marc Thibault.
Hockey — Taylor Finnie, Kendall Fitzgerald, Sydney Gordon, Squwey Gottfriedson and Larissa Kolle.
Judo — Megan Hanks, Denis MacLean, Jarek Masson, Chantell Nagy, Drew Ramsay and Darcy Werner.
Alpine skiing — Brian Buffel, Kate Cartwright, Nicola Costerton, Mackenzie Duff, Myka Jardine-Arnold, Shaylyn Kovacs and Evan Monroe.
Cross-country skiing — Sarah Manhard.
Speed skating — Yolaine Kampman, Eric Spence and Sara Spence.
Coaches — Ken Brown (head coach, curling), Lisa Comazzetto (assistant coach, gymnastics), Elysha Aspeslet (head coach, female hockey), Kelsey Clovechok (assistant coach, female hockey), Dana Manhard (assistant coach, cross-country skiing) and Cathy Turnbull-Spence (head coach, speed skating).
Adult supervisors — Valerie Brown (curling) and Seana Trimble (netball).