Justin Filteau is one judo medal closer to his mom’s total.
Of course, his mom being third-degree black belt and former Olympian Nancy Filteau, he has a long way to go before he catches up.
The younger Filteau was one of 20-plus local judokas who took part in the Koseikan Judo Club’s annual 12-and-under tournament Saturday.
A total of 47 young competitors took part in the event, including contingents from Swift Current and Regina and for many it was the first time they’d tasted competitive experience.
That includes Filteau, 7, who won his first-ever gold medal in his first-ever tournament — something that, to say the least, made for happy times for the young judoka.
“This is really good, I want to win a lot more of these,” he said with a wide, bright-eyed smile shortly after posing for photos on the medal podium. “I’m going to keep this forever.”
Filteau’s enthusiasm was mirrored by the majority of the young fighters, a large number of whom also won their first judo competition medal — the tournament draw was set up so that every judoka took home hardware this weekend.
That’s one thing that can keep young fighters coming back for more, and keep them interested in continuing their involvement in the sport, said Koseikan sensei Cliff Wiens.
“The pressure isn’t there at a tournament like this, so it’s a great way for these kids to see what it’s like to compete as well as test their skills against other young fighters,” he explained. “You could see it as the tournament went on, the kids just wanted to keep going, and that’s great.”
The low-pressure situation didn’t mean the matches themselves were any less competitive, though.
“There were some excellent battles, a lot of the youngsters who were here showed a lot of promise,” Wiens said. “Even a few of our kids who are just starting out did really well, too. Even though they hadn’t fought in a tournament before they still went out there and showed what they could do.”
Wiens pointed to white belt Tyler O’Rourke as a perfect example — O’Rourke defeated a pair of orange belts in his first two matches, despite having only been part of the Koseikan club for a short time.
That kind of success often carries right over into class, something that comes as no surprise to Koseikan instructor Vern MacDonald.
“Their spirit will be so high, they’ll have a reason to come to class and try to become even better,” he said. “Even the kids who lost, they’ll want to improve their abilities, so this pays off for them, too.”
Then, of course, there’s the camaraderie part of a tournament with out-of-town competitors — some of the young fighters might have fostered lifelong friendships that will extend far beyond just a one weekend competition.
“I looked over at the corner once and there was a kid from Moose Jaw, a kid from Regina and a kid from Swift Current all sitting there and talking and having a good time,” Wiens said. “For a lot of the young ones, this is the first time they’ve had a chance to do that and these are kids they’ll see at future tournaments, too. They’ll have a chance to get to know each other pretty well over the years.”
Off the mat . . . the tournament was sponsored by Kirby Duzan of Investor’s Group, who donated all the medals to the event. . . the next major tournament for the club will be Jan. 22 in Regina for the Sask Open, an event which features some of the best judokas from throughout Western Canada . . . Koseikan will host their annual tournament, also sponsored by Investor’s Group, during the Feb. 19 weekend
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Dec 13, 1999