The last time they went to a Games, Kailey Large and Stephanie Legault were amongst the youngest competitors there.
Now as the two Koseikan Judo Club members prepare for the Western Canada Games in Stonewall, Manitoba, the pair will be among the oldest competitors there. As well as the most decorated.
Large and Legault will be joined by Garth Rivers on the provincial judo team when the Games opens today. All three are considered serious medal hopefuls and each are looking forward to their last Games experience.
"I went to the Canada Games in 1999 and I was one of the youngest," said Large. "Now we're more of the older age, but hopefully it's just as good an experience and just as fun."
For the trio, national and western competitions are old hat. All three have competed junior nationals and each attended this year senior nationals. Though they've tasted the best the country has to offer, Large said this is still a significant competition.
"This is more major than Senior Nationals," said Large. "There's more competition for me."
Large is very familiar with her competition in the under-57 kilogram women's field. She has specifically been working on exposing their weaknesses in the last two months as she trains at the Koseikan dojo.
"I know when they tend to do the majority of the time, so I've been working on that," said Large. "Hopefully it will (work), I won't know until I get there I guess."
With the rest of the club shutting down two months ago, the trio and a handful of others have continued to sweat it out in the summer at the dojo. The time to train without competition is paying off according to Legault.
"I'm a lot stronger than I expected," said Legault, who competed in the under-63 kg women's field. "I had a down moment, but I've picked it up in the last couple of months.
"I would be pretty disappointed if I didn't medal. I'm hoping to win gold."
That's the general thought for all three competitors. Though they are familiar enough with the competition to know it won't be easy, there is a quiet confidence amongst the group.
"It's going to be really quick competition, they're always zooming in on you and stuff," said Rivers who competes in the under-55 kg men's field. "I hope to do good. If I don't I'll be really surprised."
While Large and Legault each attended the '99 Canada Games and Legault was at the '98 Saskatchewan Games, this is the first time at an event of this nature for Rivers. He's looking forward to meeting other athletes and enjoying the Games.
"It should be a good new experience," he said. "It's a pretty big deal. I'm looking forward to it."
The judo part of the competition begins Saturday and concludes Monday.
The Games are also taking part at sites in Beausejour, Gimli and Selkirk and conclude Aug. 10.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald August 1, 2003