At the international level a small mistake can do you in quickly.
Both Jim Wiens and Shane Kivol from the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club had strong performances at the Vancouver International Judo Tournament, but both felt they were very close to doing even better.
Kivol earned a bronze medal and had an outstanding performance after losing his first match to Calgary's Travis Browne in the Senior Men's Intermediate under-73 kilogram division.
"It's a little overwhelming at first," said Kivol. "It's so big compared to anything we do around here. You don't know what to expect. You get out there trying to feel guys out and the next thing you know it's over.
"He didn't destroy me or anything, it was just a couple of little mistakes and it's over. I knew I had to come out and be more aggressive."
Kivol went on to beat B.C.'s Trevor McKillgan and Mike Murphy, defeat Browne in a rematch and then downed Scott Frazer from Delta, B.C. to claim bronze.
"I think it was only nerves that cost Shane in his first match," said Wiens, who is also an instructor with the club. "He easily could have won gold.
"He was a little apprehensive. After the first fight you could tell, even his body language was more confident. He realized it's no different than any other tournament - it's just on a higher scale."
Wiens finished fifth in the Senior Men's 100+ Brown-Black belt division out of 10 competitors. He beat Doug Hrynyk from Delta and then lost to Manitoba's William Husarewycz. He was then beaten by Ryo Shiraishi from Tokai University in Japan.
"The first one went well, the second one I was upset with myself - I should have won," said Wiens. "I had fought William before and had beaten him."
Wiens had almost thrown Husarewycz and prepared to try to lift him higher and walked right into a counter throw.
"I put him back down and then loaded him up to lift him higher and throw him and he stepped in front and over I went," said Wiens. "It was a really basic mistake."
Wiens was pleased with how he acquitted himself against Shiraishi.
"He was an incredible athlete," said Wiens. "He's a third degree black belt and basically judo is his career.
"I stepped out of one throw and another throw he only got half a point, so the match continued with me on the ground. I got out twice before he held me down to win the match."
The pair also trained with the Japanese athletes.
"They're just absolutely amazing," said Kivol. "They eat, sleep and breathe judo and we just do it for fun. They're pretty impressive. There is a reason for everything they do."
The Koseikan will host their own tournament in two weeks and will send a large contingent to another international competition - the Edmonton International Judo Tournament - in four weeks. They are expecting to send as many as 20 competitors to the tournament which has grown to feature more than 500 athletes.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald February 22, 2008