The Edmonton International Judo Tournament is quite a draw, not only attracting athletes from across the country and the world, but plenty of fans as well.
Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club coach Jim Wiens asked organizers to estimate how many fans watched the tournament in its two days at the West Edmonton Mall and the answer he got was not a small figure - 50,000.
Wiens said large crowds like that can awake the butterflies in an athletes stomach.
"Bleachers packed solid shoulder to shoulder with people," said Wiens. "To stand out there and look up and see bleachers full of people and two circles of people sometimes three or four people deep all looking down and watching you, it can be very intimidating and very overwhelming."
But after the tournament was done, the only thing overwhelming was how well the Moose Javians did.
From the 17 participants, there were ten medals in total: one gold, five silver and four bronze.
Black belt instructor Derek Porter won the lone gold for the club. Brock Pearson, Rebecca Hanson, Keon Burnett, Zachary Ryan and Damien Wiens all finished with silver and Sara Wiens, Brandon Fortman, Brianna Walz, Madelaine Stich and Brooke German all claimed bronze.
Wiens said that two standouts in tournament for the judo club were the performance of its instructors due their long absence from competition.
"(Porter) showed he has it together still and that he has the talent to go far in this sport," said Wiens. "The only tournament (Porter and Burnett) competed at in many, many years was a small tournament in Melfort (Mar. 6) with (provincial) athletes . . . from there to where its a whole array of athletes from everywhere."
Wiens said for the younger athletes, there was a new scoring system in place to allow the matches to go on longer so they can develop their skills. In the past, some matches could end in a matter of seconds if a competitor successfully executed a one-point throw, or ippon.
"There were matches that ended early and didn't actually decide who the best athlete was, but who fell down first," said Wiens. "This scoring system gives them a straight-time two minute match and (they can) do as many techniques as they can in the two minutes. It helps with their confidence level and their ability to do different throws."
On Saturday, the judo club will be hosting a tournament of their own, the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club Open Tournament at Vanier, starting at 10:30 a.m. and running to the afternoon. Wiens said the event could attract over 100 athletes.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Mach 26, 2010