He may pick and choose his judo tournaments these days but Garth Rivers sure knows how to make an impact when he takes to the mat.
The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club competitor turned in one of the most impressive performances of the event at the Edmonton International Judo Tournament on the weekend, posting a 3-0 record to take first place in his senior men's under-60 kilogram division.
Given the size and scope of the tournament - with more than 500 competitors fighting in over 600 divisions at the West Edmonton Mall hockey rink - winning a gold medal was impressive in itself. But the way Rivers did it was nothing short of astonishing.
The former national junior silver medalist utterly dominated Canadian senior championship contender Serge Zamotine in the gold medal final, catching him in a 'triple threat' hold - a combination of a choke, hold-down and submission - to win the match.
"The number one show for the day was definitely Garth," said Koseikan coach Jim Wiens. "The athletes that he beat were all incredible fighters, two of the three people he fought were national competitors . . . and then to fight a guy like Serge and make him tap, that's amazing.
"This shows that if he can keep up the level of intensity he had this weekend, he could go so far it would be incredible," he added. "It was quite the show and something else to watch."
Rivers' performance was echoed by that of the rest of the club, as several Koseikan fighters turned in medal performances despite fighting in divisions with competitors numbering in the double digits.
"The kids we took up here did so well," Wiens said. "The pressure of having it in the mall like that, they estimated something around 50,000 spectators through the tournament, so that was pretty neat for the kids, and they seemed to respond well."
One of the top performances for the younger crew came from Braydon Johnson in the Cadet boys over-42 kg division as he posted a 5-2 record to finish second, with both his losses coming against the gold medalist.
"He usually has a rough division with the heavyweights, the same division that Josh and I would usually fight but at a kids level," Wiens explained. "And then to go through that many competitors, and put together than kind of a record with his only losses to the guy who lost gold, that was nice to see . . . it shows that besides Garth there's a whole new generation coming along."
Provincial wrestling champion Devin Kiryk showed he's just as proficient wearing a gi, posting a 4-0 record to take first place in the Cadet boys under-26 kg division, while Taryn Montgomery was second in the Cadet girls under-26 kg category and Brady Smith second in the Cadet boys under-23 kg division.
Jeremy Williams put together a second-place finish in the men's advanced under-55 kg class, while Josh Wiens was second in the over- 100 kg men's division.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Apr. 12, 2006