Levi Cordick put in the miles to earn his first flight.
Not air miles, but by going the extra mile in training and by competing in three different weight classes, the Moose Jaw Koseikan Club judoka will represent Saskatchewan at the Jeux du Canada Games in Bathurst-Campbellton, New Brunswick.
Joining Cordick on the Sask team is Moose Jaw's Freddy Myers, 13, who competed out the Koseikan in previous years.
For the past two years Cordick, Myers and some of the best young judoka in the province have been gathering points in a special Canada Games Division at meets to qualify for the Games. Though Cordick ultimately qualified in the -48 kilogram division, he also competed in two higher weight classes -- the -51 kg and -55 kg.
"No, I actually wasn't expecting to make it," said Cordick. "I didn't do so well at the start of the year. Going into the last couple (of tournaments) I didn't think I was going to make it. I did my best and I guess it worked out."
Koseikan sensei Cliff Wiens tells it a little different:
"When he qualified for the Canada Games he was completely ahead of everyone in his division," said Wiens. So what's to account for his uncertainty until the team was announced at the end of December?
"I think he needs a little confidence," said Wiens.
It's confidence he should be gaining in spades. He won his division at the recent Swift Current Judo Tournament in a performance where Wiens said "he walked through everyone in about 20 seconds."
The top judoka in the country will be a whole different kettle of fish however. Neither Wiens, nor Cordick, have any idea what to expect from the field in Campbellton. Given the fact that it will be Cordick's first taste of national competition and that he turns 14 just before the opening of the Games, Wiens is placing no expectations on him.
"I have no idea what to expect from nationals," said Wiens. "But he's a hard worker and he's going to be one of the bright spots for years to come."
The provincial team is led by coach Fedor Lazarenko who is looking to develop the young judoka as they work toward hitting the prime of their careers in their late 20s and early 30s.
Cordick is looking forward to the experience of seeing some good competition, flying for the first time and enjoying the Games experience.
"It's going to be nice to see a different area altogether," he said of travelling to New Brunswick. "I'm going to at least try to medal.
"I've seen a bit of Quebec and they're tough," he added of the traditional powers who sent some of their young judoka to Manitoba recently. Cordick said that making the provincial team has helped him be more committed in practice as he prepares for his week of competition.
The Grade 8 student from Ecole Ross School will be in Campbellton for eight days and will compete in the second half of the Games, taking part in the closing ceremonies. The Judo competition begins today and concludes March 8.
Cordick and Myers are two of 17 members of the Sask judo delegation. All competitors are born between 1987 and 1990. The competition will feature an individual event followed by a team dual meet event.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Mar 1, 2003