After winning two national medals in his career as a junior, Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club competitor Jeremy Williams was looking for more of the same when he graduated to the senior ranks this season.
It didn't take long for him to return to the podium.
Williams, 19, won bronze at the 2005 Canadian Senior Judo championships in St. John's, Nfld. on the weekend, the first medal of his career at that level.
"It went quite well, I stayed focused, I warmed up well, everything was great leading up to my first fight and I was able to keep it going," Williams said in describing his tournament run. "It's a pretty nice feeling compared to 2003 where I just went in and got dusted. I'm glad that I was able to do well."
Williams went undefeated in his three preliminary round matches, needing just under four minutes to roll through his opponents and into the medal round - taking 59 seconds to get past Jean-Charles Larocque of Quebec in his opening match, 12 seconds to defeat Ontario's Jonathan Bodenstein and a comparatively long 2:22 to down Quebec's Djaouad Meddane in his final round robin tilt.
As the match time would indicate, Williams' bout with Meddane was his toughest to that point, something that stemmed largely from his cautious approach.
"That was a bit more challenging, (provincial team coach) Fedor (Lazarenko) told me going in that he does leg picks so that's what I was trying to stay away from," Williams explained. "The match before I fought him, he caught a guy pretty good and put him right through the mats, so I was thinking 'that's what I'm up against? I'm not going to let that happen to me'. So I kept an eye out for that and I was able to catch him with uchi-mata(inner thigh throw) to finish it."
Williams had little time to regroup before he was called back for the semifinal, with that match with Alberta's Serge Zamotine going 2:23 before Zamotine caught Williams with kata guruma - essentially a modified version of a fireman's carry in wrestling - for an ippon and the victory.
The loss was that much tougher in that Williams had defeated Zamotine at a tournament in Lloydminster earlier this year and had pushed his Alberta rival to the limit before losing at the Sask Open a month ago.
"When I beat him it was an easy win back then, so I knew about him. He fights low to the ground and I was most worried about his counters, but it's like they say, you just get the right grip and go and that's what I tried to do. But I made one mistake and he caught me," Williams said.
Having so little time between his final round robin match and the semifinal - little more that five minutes - didn't help, either.
"I thought that was a big factor because I was the first match up after the break, and that wasn't a lot of time to get ready," Williams explained. "I wasn't able to calm down and pump myself back up, it was all off adrenaline."
Zamotine went on to lose to Quebec's Julien Paradis in the gold medal final.
"I was kind of upset at first because I was able to get so far and to have it fall apart with one big throw was disappointing," said Williams, who won silver at junior nationals in 2002 and bronze in 2004. "But it was still a pretty good meet, things worked out well and it makes me want to work even harder to get to that level next year."
Things didn't go quite as well for Koseikan competitors Dave Guthrie and Josh Wiens as neither were able to win a match in their respective divisions.
Guthrie lost his lone bout in the 90-kg class to Ontario's Sebastian Pawlak, while Wiens lost all three of his matches in the over-100-kg division, falling by two waza-ari to B.C.'s Jay Pickering, losing by disqualification to Quebec's Sebastien Godin and losing by waza-ari to B.C.'s Hugh Rogers.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald May 25, 2005