Re-printed with the permission of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald
City's Hansen gearing up for nationals
Times-Herald Sports Reporter
Translated, the Moose Jaw Judo Club's official name of Koseikan means: "Try to do things the best way or the right way."

Steve Hansen is doing both -- and he's not wasting any time.

The 24-year-old Moose Javian is making his second trip to the national championships May 17 and 18 in a sport he took up just over three years ago. The following weekend he's going for his black belt in Prince Albert.

Hansen, presently a brown belt, will compete in the under-65-kilogram class at Lethbridge with plans to build on last year's experience at Sept-Iles, Que.

" I hope to make it to the top 10," he said. "I think that means I'll probably have to win two or three fights."

Last year - with 2 1/2 years experience - Hansen lost his first national match to a second-degree black belt. Regardless, the experience helped give him confidence as he prepares for round two.

"You've got to believe in yourself and believe you're there for a reason - that they didn't just pick some Joe Blow off the street."

Chances are, Joe Blow couldn't perform many of the 40 throws and 40 ground techniques that lead a judokan to black belt status - if he also passes a written exam and exhibits the basics of attacking and defence through nage kata.

Hansen's interest in martial arts led him to tae kwon do and karate first, but he settled on judo.

"It's man-to-man combat against another person. Nothing is given back; you go as hard as you can."

But, a judokan's first fight is in his mind, added Hansen.

"You learn the techniques like everybody else . . . but there's just something different and I think it's up there."

Club sensei Cliff Wiens said Hansen has an "above average work ethic." When the pair began working together, they outlined a five-year plan for Hansen to attend Nationals and achieve his black belt. The first goal has already been acomplished; the second is well within sight - all a year and a half early.

"That's not my teaching; that's his hard work," said Wiens.

"He's got natural ability and he studies exceptionally hard. He has a true love of the sport. Everything you teach him soaks in."

Provincial team coach Ewan Beaton -- a seven-time Canadian Champion and two-time Olympian -- also sees the potential, added Wiens.

"He has told me he expects big things from Steve in the future . . . One day (Steve) will make the national team to go to the Olympics and World Championships just by his work habits."

Clubmate Vern macDonald, a black belt, confirmed the formula that has taken Hansen "a long way in a short time."

That takes hard work, dedication and then more hard work."

Both Wiens and MacDonald add Hansen is a good role model for the club's youth, by actively giving back with his dedication and skill.

"Steve is very club-oriented," said Wiens. "When good things happen to Steve, he comments that it's the club that brought him."

Here's proof.

Wiens "gave me goals and challenges -- things to guide myself," said Hansen of his sensei.

Hansen has also benefitted from many willing training partners, plus the experience of a former Yugoslavian national junior team member (who has since moved away) and Olympian Nancy Jewitt-Filteau.

"I got to see what kind of dedication it takes -- the ups and downs," said Hansen of Jewitt-Filteau's preparation for the 1996 Atlanta Games. He added he hopes to be the one training for Olympics some day.

"Ever since I started judo my main focus has been to see how far I can get and how much I can improve."

A entrepreneirial venture with a partner -- manufacturing pump stations -- has given Hansen flexible working hours, allowing him time to be dedicated to his sport.

"I think a major drawback from a lot of Canadian competitors is not to have that freedom."

Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald April 29, 1997

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