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Iqaluit Judo Club hits the road

James McCarthy
Northern News Services
Monday, December 19, 2016

The Iqaluit Judo Club doesn't have many chances during the season to get in meaningful competition.

NNSL photo/graphic

Iqaluit's Rocco Camil tries to get a grip on his opponent during action at the Arctic Open judo tournament in Yellowknife on Dec. 10. - James McCarthy/NNSL photo

That's why a trip to Yellowknife earlier this month presented a great opportunity for the club's younger judoka to get in some matches and some extra training.

Five judoka between the ages of 11 and 14 along with their coach, Torsten Diesel, flew into the NWT capital for the second annual Arctic Open tournament. It was notable because it featured judoka from all three territories as well as a handful of competitors from Yukon.

"This was our first tournament of the season and we took our younger judoka," Diesel said. "It's part of a multi-year plan that we have to hopefully get some of them fighting at nationals in the future. Smaller tournaments like this one are always good for us. We always want to win medals but exposure for them was the big goal."

The sextet of judoka were part of a crew of more than four dozen that hit the mats for a mix of competition and training. The competitive aspect was split into two portions - standing and ground - but the Iqaluit crew competed in standing only.

Diesel said that's because the ground portion is for younger judoka.

"The ground fights were for the U10 and younger because at that age, it could be dangerous to have young kids throwing each other, especially if you have someone who isn't used to throwing," he said. "That's where you get injuries."

For their first tournament of the season, Diesel said his young troops looked real good, considering they weren't fighting at their proper weight categories.

"That was a bit difficult for them because you had some of them fighting heavier judoka and some of them were also older," he said. "They can be happy with their performances because they all fought up higher."

Diesel even got in on the act himself and hit the mat, something he said was fun because he hasn't fought in a while.

"There isn't much adult competition in Nunavut but it was a great chance to see where my weaknesses are," he said. "I didn't know my competitor (Maxence Jaillet of Yellowknife) but it was super fun."

Aside from the competition, there was a surprise in store for one judoka as Christopher Timar was promoted to a full orange belt, the fifth rank in order of ascension for junior judoka in Canada. Timar went in to the weekend as a yellow-orange belt.

"He managed to convince myself and Mario Des Forges (president of the NWT Judo Association) that he was good enough to go up," said Diesel.

"He was excelling in the tournament with his throwing and he did much better than I thought he would."

There isn't much grading in Nunavut and being able to have Des Forges grade Timar was another positive of the weekend, he added.

The Montreal Cup in March is the next scheduled competition and there could be the chance to go to other places, such as Ottawa.

"Going to Montreal and Ottawa is good for us because the airfares aren't as bad," said Diesel.

"Whenever we travel, we always want to take advantage of extra training and learn from other clubs but it all depends on our funding. If we can visit another club, that's always fantastic for us."

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