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Smithers Judo club kicks it at the P.G. Open tournament

All six Judo club competitors came home from tournament with medals
Right: Hadley Mauer of Smithers, won her match by doing a controlled “throw,” and holding her opponent to the ground for 10 seconds, at the Judo Open in Prince George. (Submitted photo)

The PG Open Judo competition is the main judo tournament for all clubs in northern B.C., which happens annually. The Smithers club hasn’t had an opportunity to go since before COVID, which meant all of the competitors attending this year’s event were attending their first judo competition. All six competitors from Smithers had successful showings.

Of the six competitors from smithers, five of them were in the Junior category, (under 12 years), one competitor was in the Senior category. He was 14, fighting against 15 and 16 year olds.

In the Junior categories, scorekeepers keep track of who wins each match, but they do not award medals in final results for a tournament. Instead all of the competitors receive the same medal for participating.

“Vigo Soby, the athlete from the Smithers club competing in the Senior division, did well for his first competition. He won one match and lost one match. Both people he fought were larger and older than he was,” said coach Al Gauthier.

“Friday night the Smithers club held a training camp focussed on Junior and first time competitors. It was a training exercise and warm-up, but really focussed on getting familiar with competition and that number of people and the big space. Really trying to bring down the level of anxiety and nervousness, for all of the competitors who are competing the next day for the first time,” Rob Mauer, dad of one of the competitors said.

READ MORE:Smithers Judo Club celebrates 60 years

“The level of intensity from training week to week at the club with your friends to being in a competition is massively different. Every kid from our club who competed will go back to regular training and have a different level of intensity and ferociousness than they had in the past,” Mauer explained.

“At this young age, the chance of winning increases greatly if you attack more and be more aggressive than your opponent. If your opponent spends the whole time, trying to defend themselves, it makes it really hard for them to attack you.

Our kids typically started off slow because they were not used to the level of intensity. As they understood what it would take and be more aggressive, their results improved in their later matches,” Mauer said.

Organizers confirms there were seven clubs and 180 participants in Prince George for the meet, over the April 1st weekend event.

“There has been a judo club in Smithers since 1954. Membership and activity has gone up and down over the years but it has always been there. Right now we have about 40 members. We are looking for larger spaces to train so that we can expand the club,” explains Mauer of the club.

“In Judo, it is ironic that they call the techniques “throws”. When really, you don’t let go of the other person. You maintain your grip on them because you want to protect them from smashing into the ground but you also don’t want them to be able to get away to restart the fight at an advantage,” Mauer concluded.

Al Gauthier was pleased with the overall results for the team. Everyone learned and did well in his opinion.

“They come back with valuable lessons and experiences to go forward with,” Gauthier said.

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Hadley Mauer, of Smithers, is all smiles after win at the Judo Open Tournament in Prince George. )Submitted photo)
Cole Ostapowich (left) and William Klubi both from Smithers, brought home medals from the recent Judo Open Tournament in Prince George. (Submitted photo)