Judo Canada and Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) confirmed the eleven athletes and two coaches to be named to Team Canada for the XXth Commonwealth Games in Glasgow Scotland this July.
Led by experienced coaches, the 2014 Team Canada roster for judo is full of current or past National Junior Champions who have been targeted based on their current international experience and senior level promise. Coaches include Ewan Beaton, Olympian in Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996) and 2008 and 2012 Olympian Sasha Mehmedovic.
All first-time Commonwealth Games athletes, the eleven athletes are poised to use the Games as a platform to take on the best. This young team will be well represented by World Cup and European Cup Champions as well as team members Jessica Klimkait and Louis Krieber-Gagnon who are the first female and male Canadian judokas to hold the title of Cadet World Champions (2013).
“Canada has won an impressive eighteen medals in judo at only two Commonwealth Games where judo was on the programme, including two-gold medals,” says Team Canada Chef de Mission, Chantal Petitclerc. “There are great expectations on this young team to follow up on some great competitive results of the past. I look forward to seeing them compete in Glasgow, and welcome them to the 2014 Canadian Team.”
Nicolas Gill, Judo Canada High Performance Director and National Coach, expects Glasgow to be a great opportunity for these athletes, and he should know, as he won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in the 100KG weight-class.
“Our team is young, but they have tremendous potential and will create some surprises,” says Gill. “For Judo Canada, the Commonwealth Games will be a great opportunity for this group of athletes to compete at a high level multi-sport games as they face the best judokas in the Commonwealth.”
Athletes and coaches nominated by Judo Canada to Team Canada for the 2014 Commonwealth Games were selected as per Judo Canada’s Canadian base rankings on international performance. They include:
- Audree Francis-Methot, 22, 52KG, Sept-Iles, QC. A member of the national team for the last four years, Francis-Methot took the opportunity to leave her hometown to train at a national training centre in 2010. In 2012, she won her first international title by winning the Commonwealth Championships in Cardiff. She is the current Canadian Champion at 48KG.
- Jessika Klimkait, 18, 57KG, Whitby, ON. 2013 Cadet World Champion, Klimkait is the first Canadian judoka to hold this title. Also in 2013, she won cadet, junior and senior competitions.
- Beatrice Valois-Fortier, 20, 63KG, Beauport, QC. Valois-Fortier is the 2014 junior and senior National Champion in her weight-class. Valois-Fortier will represent Canada at the Junior World Championships for a second time, in October of 2014.
- Monika Burgess, 19, 70KG, Kitchener, ON. Still junior competition aged, Burgess already competes strongly against senior-level competitors. She recently captured a silver medal at the Belgium Open international competition and thus has qualified for the Junior World Championships.
- Alix Renaud-Roy, 21, 70KG, St-Roch-des-Aulnaies, QC. In 2009, Renaud-Roy confirmed her international scene debut by finishing fifth at the World Cadet Championships. In 2012, she was a champion at the Pan-American Junior Championships. Now a senior, she has already won additional international medals.
- Ana Laura Portuondo-Isasi, 18, 78KG, La Prairie, QC. Despite her young age, Portuondo-Isasi has already won many international medals. In her first year at the junior level, she won silver at the African Open and a bronze at the Pan-American Championships. She is among the medal hopes for the next World Junior Championships.
- Sophie Vaillancourt, 20, 78KG, Wotton, QC. Coached by Francois Noel for the last three years, Vaillancourt has dominated her weight-class in Canada.
- Antoine Bouchard, 20, 66KG, Jonquiere, QC. Bouchard has been one of the most consistent junior competitors over the last few years with numerous medals in international competition, including two gold medals at the Coimbra European Cup. Bouchard is one of Judo Canada’s dark horses for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
- Jonah Burt, 20, 81KG, Whitby, ON. The 2014 Commonwealth Games are a clear goal for Burt. Since moving to the National Training Center, his results over the last 12 months, including a bronze medal at the International Master of Bremen, are a clear indication that he will be a medal threat in Glasgow.
- Louis Krieber-Gagnon, 18, 81KG, Montreal, QC. Krieber-Gagnon is the first male to win a world title for Canada in judo (Cadet 2013).
- Martin Rygielski, 19, 100KG, St. Clements, ON. Rygielski was the Canadian Judo Champion in the U21 category for two years in a row and in 2014 won the Canadian Judo Championships in the seniors category.
- Ewan Beaton, Edmonton, Alberta. Beaton competed in the 60 kg judoka class at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He was a Canadian judo coach at the 2004 Olympic Games and the Canadian Judo Team Leader for the 2008 Olympic Games.
- Sasha Mehmedovic, Toronto, ON. Mehmedovic, born in Pancevo, Serbia, came to Canada in 1993 and went on to compete at his second Olympic Games in 2012 finishing 17th in the men’s 66KG division. A five-time medallist at the National Championships, he is currently the Junior National Coach.
“Canadians feel a special pride watching our talented athletes represent our country at the Commonwealth Games,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “Congratulations on being named to Canada’s Commonwealth Games judo team: we are very proud of you! We wish you well as you focus on your final preparations and good luck at the Games in Glasgow!”
The Canadian Team is expected to be comprised of 265 athletes, Canada’s largest team ever fielded for a non-home Games. The entire Canadian Team will be officially named by Commonwealth Games Canada in July 2014.
The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will be held from July 23rd to August 3rd, 2014, and will be the largest ever multi-sport event held on Scottish soil.
Story from the Commonwealth Games Canada Website | CommonwealthGamesCanada.ca